Goodbye Lenin: Moscow No. 1 in Billionaires

Mar 8, 2012 2:34pm

What would Lenin think?  According to Forbes’ annual list, Moscow is home to more billionaires than any other city in the world.

Just over two decades after the Soviet Union collapsed there are now 78 billionaires living in the Russian capital. New York came in second place with 58 billionaires. London only has half as many as Moscow with 39. The United States is still the country with the most billionaires, 425, though Russia is second with 96.

The concentration of billionaires in Moscow, and the many more in other Russian cities like St Petersburg, are among the class here known as oligarchs. Many of them benefited from the wave of privatization that followed the collapse of the USSR. Several cashed in on political, military or KGB ties that allowed them to snap up large stakes in Russia’s vast mineral and gas deposits.

As energy prices have ballooned over the past decade, so too have the net worths of the Russian titans of industry. That wealth has trickled down and is visible on the streets of Moscow, where Ferraris, Maserattis and Bentleys are a common sight.

Russia’s richest man, the metal baron Alisher Usmanov, ranked 28th on the Forbes worldwide list. He’s estimated to be worth some $18.1 billion. The richest man in Russia last year was Vladimir Lisin, another metal titan, but this year he dropped to 41st on the Forbes list from 14th. Still, he probably isn’t hurting much with an estimated worth of $15.9 billion.

Mikhail Prokhorov, the billionaire owner of the New Jersey Nets basketball franchise, who challenged Vladimir Putin for the presidency but came in third in Sunday’s vote, placed 58th on the Forbes list with a value of $13.2 billion.

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