Thursday, April 5, 2012

The Daughter Rybolovlev

Alexei Barrionuevo's epic story on the front page of Wednesday’s Times, “Time to Sell Penthouse. The Russians Have Cash.” NYT, 4/3/12) is a seemingly superficial tale that has the breadth though not the depth of War and Peace or Anna Karenina. Or perhaps The Brothers Karamazov more effectively nails the idea. Remember Dimitri Karamazov? Well we have a new Dimitry surnamed Rybolovlev whose daughter Ekaterina, a competitive horse racer (Catherine the Great also liked horses but not for their racing capabilities), and who Barrionuevo reports is completing a degree at Harvard University’s Extension School and who shares an apartment with her dad in Monaco, which apparently is closer to her phillies, acquired Sandy Weill’s penthouse at 15 Central Park West for $88 million, a record. Barrionuevo also reported that Vladislav Doronin, whose name may be used by some future writer of a long Russian novel (in English), purchased Shaq’s Star Island manse for a cool 16M. According to Barrionuevo, these wealthy Russians keep the cash registers ringing at Nobu and the Standard  and “Some of them roll about town in customized Rolls Royces where the doors open at the opposite hinge to allow women to step out easier in heels.” Would Pasternak or David Lean who filmed Zhivago have even been able to imagine such an elegant fate for Lara (Julie Christie in the movie)? Perhaps Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead is the model for Mr. Rybolovlev’s CV, but her Ubermensch was no Russian. In any case Ekaterina’s big acquisition has had consequences far beyond the confines of her stable. “Extell Development company has increased its listing prices percent to 15 percent at 157 West 57th Street, which will be New York’s tallest residential building,” Barrionuevo commented. “The two-floor penthouse is now selling for $115 million, up from the original asking price of $98 million.” Meanwhile in the same issue of the paper a piece with the byline “Fire Kills 17 in Moscow Workers’ Dormitory,” (NYT, 4/3/12) underlined “Russia’s worsening problem with the enforcement of basic safety standards.”  “Respect for the law is minimal even when human lives are at stake,” the Times reported about a country whose new rich are such a positive force in the market for high-end Manhattan residences. “Boats sink, planes crash and buildings burn with startling frequency, leading to protests but little apparent change.”

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