Last month, Business Insider published a list of the richest people on earth. Ukraine-born American investor Leonard Blavatnik came in at No. 42 with a net worth of $ 16.7 billion.
The self-made billionaire’s wealth has ballooned in recent years thanks to his privately held industrial group, Access Industries, which has major global investments in chemicals, real estate, and entertainment.
Blavatnik is perhaps best known for his legendary investment in chemical company LyondellBasell, but since buying Warner Music Group in 2011, he’s become a force in Hollywood, too.
Here’s a look at how Blavatnik became one of the world’s most vaunted dealmakers.
Blavatnik attended Moscow University of Railway Engineering until his family immigrated to the US in 1978 — he gained citizenship in 1984.
He went on to earn his masters degree in computer science at Columbia University and his MBA at Harvard Business School. He has remained loyal to his alma mater, donating $ 50 million to Harvard in 2013 to sponsor life sciences entrepreneurship.
In 1986, Blavatnik founded Access Industries, a privately held industrial company. Initially, AI was involved in Russian investments but has since diversified its portfolio. AI now invests in three major sectors: natural resources and chemicals, media and telecommunications, and real estate.
The Russian-American is known for his lucrative, and often risky, business deals. In 2011, he lifted petrochemicals maker LyondellBasell out of bankruptcy amid the financial crisis for north of $ 2 billion. By 2014, the value of his stake had jumped to more than $ 10 billion, leading some to call it the greatest deal in Wall Street history. The Federal Trade Commission slapped him with a comparatively tiny $ 656,000 fine last year for failing to properly report his investments in the company.
Source: Forbes, Billboard
He’s also made power moves in fashion. Blavatnik’s company became the first and largest outside investor in upscale fashion and accessories brand Tory Burch when it purchased 20% of the company in 2004. Today, AI has a 10% stake in the $ 3 billion powerhouse retailer.
Source: Bloomberg, Business Insider
In 2011, AI purchased Warner Music Group for $ 3.3 billion and acquired Atlantic, Warner Bros. Records, Rhino, and Warner Music Nashville. Blavatnik also picked up Parlophone, a British music label that manages the likes of Coldplay and Two Door Cinema Club, for $ 742 million.
Source: Reuters, THR
Blavatnik recently teamed up with Hollywood talent manager Sarah Stennett to launch First Access Entertainment. The company will focus on talent and brand development, representation of recording artists and songwriters, and rights exploitation.
Sources: Billboard, Access Industries
Blavatnik owns AI Film, the independent movie and production company that’s behind acclaimed film Lee Daniels’ “The Butler” and “Rocketman,” the forthcoming Elton John biopic.
Source: AI Film
During the Cannes Film Festival in France every year, Blavatnik hosts an exclusive luncheon aboard his yacht, The Odessa at Old Port, along with film partner and friend Harvey Weinstein of The Weinstein Company.
He’s also invested in emerging technology companies Spotify and Beats Electronics. Billboard recently named him one of the 10 most powerful people in music.
He has various investments in personal and commercial real estate, too. His company has been partnered with hospitality outfit Faena Group since 2000 to transform Puerto Madero in Buenos Aires, Argentina, into one of the most valuable pieces of real estate in Argentina.
Source: LinkedIn, Access Industries
In 2014, AI acquired the One&Only Ocean Club on Paradise Island in the Bahamas for an undisclosed amount.
Source: Caribbean Journal
In 2004, Blavatnik spent more than $ 100 million buying his first UK property on Kensington Palace Gardens, an area in London where the mega-rich reside (he only lives there part of the time). He spent years refurbishing the home — it’s now estimated to be worth more than $ 300 million.
Source: Wealth-X, Variety
Last spring, Blavatnik paid $ 77.5 million for New York Jet’s owner Woody Johnson’s Manhattan apartment. There was no public listing for the apartment but original floor plans for the building show his 6,700-square-foot unit has 13 rooms, including four bedrooms and 6.5 baths.
Blavatnik doesn’t only care about accumulating billions — he’s also a notable, global philanthropist. The Blavatnik Family Foundation supports the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the National Gallery of Art, the Royal Academy of Arts, and Colel Chabad, a 20,000-square-foot food bank and warehouse in Israel. In 2014, he made a donation of $ 20 million to Tel Aviv University to support scientific research.
Source: Philanthropy News Digest