After three years which he described as "failure, failure, failure… I maybe failed times," he bought the small National Reserve Bank and then built up his multi-billion pound business empire. Lebedev matter-of-factly.
His career began to take off in the corrupt and lawless period of the early s, when the Soviet Union was unravelling. Did he not have to resort to unsavoury methods himself to get ahead in business? It depends on the way you have been brought up. It's like over here… Why should I be buying boats and chateaux all over Europe? It is certainly true that Mr Lebedev doesn't behave like most of the other oligarchs.
Granted his year-old girlfriend, Elena Perminova, is a model less than half his age and seven years junior to his son from his first marriage, Evgeny. But she appears to be no wallflower. For holidays, the pair go on adventurous and often basic trips, like camping in Mongolia "with jeeps, tents and canned food". One of their favourite pastimes is cutting holes in the ice in the Moscow River to fish for bream. Mr Lebedev is cultured, and extremely well read: he regularly references classics and makes the rather staggering claim that he has "read almost everything that is worth reading in literature".
Although he lives well, he claims that his personal consumption is not that high. His house in Moscow has four bedrooms and is "classic" in style, though "full of copies, not real antiques". And money helps. But otherwise I was never that interested in it.
Elena gave birth to Mr Lebedev's second son, Nikita, in mid June. He is tight-lipped about his personal life, but gives the impression of a happy, albeit clueless father. Mr Lebedev gives both time and money to good causes. Every year he bankrolls a glamorous party in Hampton Court to raise money for the Raisa Gorbachev Foundation, named after Mr Gorbachev's late wife.
Five Lesser known victims of the Hope Diamond Curse
Most of Mr Lebedev's charitable projects reflect his political beliefs. This autumn he will launch the Gorbachev Prize, a global endowment along the lines of the Nobel Prize. The prizes will reward achievements in "perestroika" and "glasnost" in different areas in life. He has also been working for three years on a project in Moscow which he says has received positive noises from the president of Russia, Dmitry Medvedev. Mr Lebedev believes that the development of a memorial to the gulags in the centre of the city will prevent the same mistakes being made, and encourage debate about the current system.
It is like a birthmark on the forehead of the nation. At dinner — a four-course banquet in the garden of the hotel — Mr Lebedev made a heartfelt toast to Mr Gorbachev for "not holding on to that post of Communist Emperor and instead giving freedom to all of us". So if Mr Lebedev really is independent from Mr Putin, why are there so many Gatsby-esque rumours that swirl around him?
It is nearly two in the morning now. The other guests in the hotel have long since gone to bed and Mr Lebedev is drinking grappa in the bar. I would need to be at work at around nine, and on the way to work I would pass a group of my colleagues who were smoking.
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I would pass by and not say much, so they thought I was arrogant. But I wasn't. I was maybe… not so easy-going like them. Mr Lebedev's expression is inscrutable as he tells this anecdote. But I get a sudden, very strong sense of how a large element of his personal mystique arises from a kind of social discomfort.
Sometimes I do not go and send a present later. And Evgeny, I ask, thinking of the dandy dresser who appears at parties by the side of his girlfriend, actress Joely Richardson.
Is he the social one? He has told me the mercury poisoning has slowed his drinking, but he is more than holding his own. Apart from his naturally pale complexion, he looks in good shape. Does Mr Lebedev believe that the Kremlin has poisoned him? He shakes his head. Mr Lebedev believes that the greatest threat to his life comes from the gambling mafia. A law that Mr Lebedev passed through the Duma pushing casinos out of Moscow will mean losses of billions to some.
The Hope Diamond: 13 Victims Of The Hope Diamond Curse - otnoneheartbadc.ml
Eating the wrong things, drinking too much. I'm facing the facts, I am quite rational… My risks are not higher than… [David] Cameron. The comparison with an opposition politician who has a very good chance of leading the country soon raises the question again of whether Mr Lebedev does not seek power. Is he quite sure that he doesn't want to be president of Russia? I wait, breathless for any other hints that the man who is rumoured to be Mr Putin's pawn is actually playing a very different game of chess: the long game, where one day he hopes to be king.
Mr Lebedev puts down his glass suddenly and bids me goodnight. As he walks out, his square face is expressionless again. The eyes of the former KGB man glint ironically as he turns and throws one last line over his shoulder: "I hope I haven't leaked any secrets. Terms and Conditions. Style Book. Weather Forecast. Accessibility links Skip to article Skip to navigation. Tuesday 24 September Alexander Lebedev: the oligarch, conspiracy theories and a mercury poisoning mystery Russian billionaire Alexander Lebedev tells Kate Weinberg where he stands on democracy, reform and the Kremlin.
By Kate Weinberg. Related Articles. Among the papers that he read was The Evening Standard. But can a man with such strong views continue to be so hands-off with the paper? So he sees himself as a good man?
Born in , Tavernier was apprenticed to a jeweler at a young age. Later in life, between and , he made six trips to India to obtain and trade diamonds. He was reputed to have discovered the Hope Diamond in the forehead of a statue of the Hindu goddess Sita in a temple. His alleged theft of the diamond spawned the famed story of the "curse". Perfect to listen to while commuting, exercising, shopping or cleaning the house..
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