Natalia Potanina, the Wife of Russia’s Richest Oligarch
Natalia Potanin was married to one of Russia’s richest oligarchs, Vladimir Potanin. As his wife she lived an extravagant lifestyle – commanding an army of servants and bodyguards while sailing both megayachts owned by their family, as well as traveling by private jet.
Since her marriage ended in 2014, she relocated to London in order to claim part of her husband’s estimated $20 billion fortune and receive a share. According to estimates by lawyers representing her claim could reach $9 billion.
Early Life and Education
Natalia Potanina first gained widespread public recognition following a high-profile divorce with one of Russia’s richest men, then living in Moscow area mansion that looks like Versailles while spending her vacations on two yachts.
Once her marriage to one of Russia’s richest individuals ended, she initiated legal proceedings to claim half of his fortune – said to be valued at $20 billion and home of Nornickel, an industry-leading nickel and palladium producer.
On Wednesday, Potanina attempted to bring a case against her former spouse in London, but this attempt was blocked by a High Court judge as an example of “divorce tourism”. On Thursday however, Britain’s Court of Appeal overturned this ruling, giving Potanina permission to bring what could become one of the largest divorce cases ever seen in England and Wales.
Natalia Potanina lived the high life as the wife of an influential Russian oligarch, commanding her own private army of servants and bodyguards while vacationing on two mega yachts and travelling by private jet.
Once they tied the knot in 1983 in Russia, they spent years together. Over that time period, communism collapsed, which enabled her former spouse to amass an impressive fortune.
At their divorce settlement in 2014, she walked away with around $40 million – yet has made legal attempts to take half of his empire including his 30 per cent share in Norilsk Nickel and Interros International Mining Companies.
Her legal representatives remain hopeful of her winning her case; should this occur, her payout would become one of the largest ever seen in British history.
Achievement and Honors
Potanina never anticipated that Vladimir Potanin, then just 24 at the time, would go on to become one of the wealthiest individuals ever since their 1983 wedding. When they parted ways in 2014, she took only a fraction of his fortune with her.
On New Year’s Eve in 2011 she hosted guests at their Moscow residence, Luzhki, to welcome in 2011. One such guest was an attractive young blonde who quickly caught the father’s eye.
Natalia and Alexander separated in 2014 and Natalia has claimed she was not awarded her fair share of his vast empire upon separation through Russian courts due to his wealth, power and influence; now seeking legal action in Britain where divorce payouts tend to be much larger.
Natalia Potanina had given up her business before marrying Vladimir Potanina to focus on family life and raising their two older children; consequently she received only a fraction of his incredible fortune.
At the time of their divorce, she received permission to pursue him in UK courts – known for being generous towards dependent spouses – in hopes of attaining one of the largest divorce settlements ever seen in history.
Her claim is complicated by his contention of minimal assets despite being listed as Russia’s fourth richest man and owning Norilsk Nickel smelter above the Arctic Circle; furthermore he hides much of his fortune through offshore companies; appeals in her case have thus far failed.
Natalia Potanina filed legal proceedings last year after her 30-year marriage to one of Russia’s wealthiest men ended, seeking half his $15 billion fortune as part of an unprecedented divorce settlement, six times larger than what Formula 1 mogul Bernie Ecclestone received when his divorce settlement from wife Carole occurred in 2009.
Her attorneys argue she is due multiple billions as compensation due to a ‘grave injustice’ and has not received her fair share of her ex-husband’s wealth. According to them, Russian courts do not take into account assets held in trusts and other corporate vehicles when allocating oligarch wealth.
Vladimir Potanin, President of Norilsk Nickel and owner of other investments. Forbes estimates his net worth at approximately $30 billion and places him as one of the 50 richest people worldwide and second richest person in Russia.