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Curbed's Whale of the Day: Roman Abramovich

Of all the rich Russians to emerge from the post-Cold War turmoil, Roman Abramovich isn't the wealthiest, but he is among the most publicly profligate. Between Chelsea F.C., the top British soccer club he acquired in 2003 for $220M, a huge art collection, a veritable fleet of yachts, and a host of luxury properties spread across the world, Abramovich is probably the ultimate whale. The 46-year-old who started off selling stolen gasoline under Soviet rule now commands a property portfolio that would make even an Ellison blush.

? A longtime resident of Moscow, Abramovich began his international property collection with the purchase of the Fyning Hill estate, outside of London, in 1999. Set on 420-acres of English countryside, the estate cost approximately $19M and once belonged to the late King Hussein of Jordan, who sold the property after a multimillion-dollar jewelry heist in the mid-'90s. In the early aughts, Abramovich expanded the estate to include "a bowling alley, an indoor swimming pool, a gym, a family room, a sauna, a steam room, and a plant room." That was in addition to the existing seven-bedroom mansion, two polo fields, a 100-horse stable, tennis court, rifle range, and go-kart track. The only trouble is, Abramovich lost this pet project to his ex-wife Irina in their 2007 divorce.

? No matter, though, as Roman has more where that came from. In 2000, the billionaire scooped up the Chateau de la Croë, on the highly desirable Cap d'Antibes, along the French Riviera. Built for an aristocratic British family in 1927, it was purchased by the Duke of Windsor, the former King Edward VIII, and he and his wife set about renovating it in sumptuous style. In 1952, the property passed to Greek shipping tycoon Stavros Niarchos, but was gutted by fire in the 1980s. No word on how much Abramovich paid, but storied mansions in this part of the world don't come cheap.

? Lest the U.S. feel neglected by Roman's largesse, the Russian swooped in to pay $36.4M for a 200-acre estate in Snowmass, Colo., built by medical tech CEO Leon Hirsch. The swooping modern mansion at the center of the estate boasts 14,300 square feet and 11 bedrooms, and best of all for a transcontinental buyer, came completely outfitted with custom furnishings. Since 11 bedrooms weren't quite enough for Abramovich and his entourage, he also paid another $11.8M for a ski-in, ski-out mansion on the slopes of Snowmass ski resort.

? In 2009, Abramovich continued his string of top-dollar purchases by dropping a whopping $90M to acquire the 70-acre Gouverneur Beach estate on the jet-set Caribbean island of St. Barths. The stunning beachfront property was formerly owned by software millionaire Jeet Singh, who had been living on the island part-time since 2000 and who told the Wall Street Journal that he "didn't lose too much" on the transaction. The $90M sale price was the highest worldwide in 2009, but apparently Singh plunged millions into creating the Balinese-style private resort.

? By 2011, Abramovich was ready to expand drastically in London. He paid Belgian-born hedge funder Pierre Legrange $90M for his massive mansion in Kensington Palace Gardens (above). This all while refitting a combination of former flats on Lowndes Square in Knightsbridge into a $200M mega-mansion. When complete the combination mansion will have 30,000 square feet of luxe interiors, including three underground stories, an indoor pool, two elevators, a cinema room, spa, and four staff flats in a mews-side garage in the rear.

· The Roman Empire [WSJ]
· All Whale Week 2013 posts [Curbed National]