Russian oligarch Dmitry Rybolovlev, ranked on the Forbes’s list of billionaires with a net worth of $8.5 billion, was ordered by a Swiss Court in May 2014 to pay his ex-wife Elena Rybolovlev more than half of the estimated net worth, $4.5 billion dollars. At the time, the payout was considered the world’s largest divorce settlement. On June 11th, an appellate court in Switzerland overruled that prior decision and limited Ms. Rybolovlev’s recovery to a paltry $609 million dollars.
Mr. Rybolovlev, a self-made billionaire, earned his fortune in various business endeavors in medical, finance, and minerals industries. The Rybolovlev’s gained notoriety with the purchase of a majority ownership position in the French soccer club, AS Monaco FC, and for his antics of their socialite daughter, Ekaterina, now 25 years old. A trust created in Ekaterina’s name purchased a property in Palm Beach, Florida from Donald Trump for $95 million in 2008 and an apartment on Central Park West in New York City in 2011 for $88 million, at the time the most expensive residential real estate purchase ever in Manhattan.
This trust named to Ekaterina, along with another trust named to the parties’ other daughter, Anna, played a pivotal role in the initial divorce award to Ms. Rybolovlev and the subsequent reduction by the Swiss Court. In Ms. Rybolovlev’s original $4.5 billion award, the Court ruled the trusts to the parties’ daughters were not subject to marital division, however, the Court nevertheless included the value of the trusts in its calculation of marital assets to be split roughly equally between the parties. On appeal, Mr. Rybolovlev’s lawyers successfully argued that the family trusts were created years before the divorce process began, presumably with the approval of both parents, and therefore should be separated from the marital pot to be divided. After removing the daughter’s trusts from the marital pot, Mr. Rybolovlev’s net assets were reduced to roughly $1 billion.
Unsurprisingly, Ms. Rybolovlev has vowed to appeal the decision to the Swiss Supreme Court.