Richest Russian Vladimir Potanin, Part Of New York Power Circles, Now Shown The Door – What We Know!

Richest Russian, Part Of New York Power Circles, Now Shown The Door

Vladimir Potanin is known as the mastermind behind the controversial loans-for-shares program.

A month in the past, Vladimir Potanin sat alongside the world’s monetary and enterprise elite on the advisory board of the New York-based Council on Overseas Relations and among the many trustees of the Guggenheim Museum in Manhattan.

These energy circles, which included Tom Hill, the previous Blackstone Inc. govt, and billionaires from Brazil and India, had been cultivated over a long time. Now, they’re closed off to Potanin, Russia’s richest man. Over the previous two weeks, he’s dropped off each boards.

The nickel and palladium magnate, who’s among the many few authentic oligarchs who stay lively in enterprise in Russia, hasn’t been sanctioned. Potanin, with a internet price of $24.5 billion, is known as the mastermind behind the controversial loans-for-shares program that led to the privatization of pure useful resource firms after the Soviet Union’s collapse.

For a lot of the previous twenty years, U.S. cultural establishments within the arts, non-profits and schooling had been keen to look previous the historical past of how billionaires with ties to Russia amassed their fortunes. In Potanin’s case, he was seen publicly years in the past with Vladimir Putin, together with in an exhibition hockey sport with the Russian chief in Sochi.

Potanin, 61, now stands out for example of how shortly Western bastions of social capital are turning amid a stress marketing campaign on Putin to finish the Ukraine struggle. Whereas Russia’s elite have quite a few methods to reshape their fortunes in response to the fallout, regaining their place in these establishments will seemingly show a more durable job.

“The reputational danger proper now of protecting an oligarch on an institutional board corresponding to CFR is simply too nice,” mentioned David Szakonyi, co-founder of the Anti-Corruption Knowledge Collective, which has researched the philanthropy of billionaires whose fortunes are tied to Russia. “It’s going to be very tough for Potanin to win again his former positions.”

Potanin, president of MMC Norilsk Nickel PJSC, which accounts for about 40% of world palladium output and 10% of refined nickel, didn’t reply to interview requests. 

The previous first deputy prime minister of vitality and financial system below Boris Yeltsin spoke publicly final week for the primary time because the Ukraine invasion, criticizing Russia’s retaliation in opposition to worldwide penalties.

“We’ve to look respectable and composed, and our efforts must be directed not at ‘slamming the door’ however at sustaining Russia’s financial place in markets that we’ve been mastering for therefore lengthy,” Potanin mentioned on Norilsk Nickel’s Telegram channel on March 11.


Potanin, together with oligarchs Petr Aven and Mikhail Fridman, are among the many billionaires with hyperlinks to Russia who’ve given greater than $300 million to lots of of probably the most prestigious U.S. non-profit establishments within the twenty years ending in 2020, in keeping with the Anti-Corruption Knowledge Collective. No less than $100 million went to greater than 100 organizations in New York, information supplied to Bloomberg present.

On the Guggenheim, trustees of the board had been required to donate at the very least $100,000 a yr, in keeping with Thomas Krens, director emeritus on the Solomon R. Guggenheim Basis, who mentioned he had contact with Potanin for greater than a decade. He recalled the Russian billionaire as steadily supporting exhibitions of Russian artwork and being “quiet, not outspoken” at conferences.

“Many oligarchs noticed a possibility and moved on that” to bolster their reputations with philanthropy within the West, Krens mentioned in a phone interview. “The response to this struggle and to Putin’s technique has been one among making an attempt to ostracize or shine a highlight on the cash and the place it got here from.”

Scant Sanctions

Lots of the New York donors haven’t been sanctioned. That doesn’t stop the questions.

Yancey Spruill, chief govt officer of New York-based DigitalOcean Holdings Inc., was requested at a convention final week about Len Blavatnik, a British-American billionaire whose Entry Industries is the know-how firm’s largest investor.

“Educated in American universities, Columbia, Harvard Enterprise Faculty, made his cash as an American,” Spruill mentioned in response on March 8. “I do know there’s a whole lot of hypothesis,” he mentioned, including that Blavatnik “has been knighted by the Queen of England.”

Blavatnik was born in Soviet Ukraine and grew his fortune within the Putin period when Russia’s state-owned Rosneft purchased out his vitality agency. At $36.9 billion, his internet price exceeds that of Potanin, in keeping with the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

“What is occurring in Ukraine is unimaginable and we, together with all fellow People, hope and pray that the battle ends shortly and that each one Ukrainian residents are as soon as once more in a position to dwell their lives in peace and freedom,” Entry Industries mentioned in a press release.

Blavatnik has donated throughout the political and philanthropic spectrum, together with to the Central Park Conservancy, Carnegie Corridor, the Mount Sinai Well being System and New York Governor Kathy Hochul.

Powerful Monitoring

It’s arduous to trace the complete extent of charitable giving as establishments typically don’t disclose their donors out of concern they’ll obtain backlash over the politics of benefactors, Szakonyi mentioned. Disclosures of particular donations could also be in broad ranges or as even vaguer minimal quantities, and in some circumstances there could also be no values disclosed in any respect, he mentioned.

And despite the fact that some establishments are asking billionaire donors to step off their boards, they aren’t returning funds or closing reveals. For instance, the Guggenheim nonetheless carries an ongoing exhibition by Moscow-born artist Wassily Kandinsky that was sponsored by benefactors together with Potanin — although his title has since been eliminated on the museum’s web site.


Moscow-born artist Wassily Kandinsky in New York Metropolis

The show was a reminder of the complexity in undoing philanthropic help from billionaires who had been welcomed within the heyday of a globalized gilded age.

“It’s tougher to unwind a long time of beneficiant oligarchic donations, which, in any case, have served to advance public curiosity within the West, than it’s to grab flagrant symbols of oligarchic wealth, which many individuals resent,” mentioned Stanislav Markus, a enterprise professor at College of South Carolina who has studied Russian wealth.

A CFR spokeswoman mentioned in an e mail final week that “it will now not be applicable” for Potanin to stay a member of its world advisory board “in gentle of Russia’s persevering with aggression in opposition to Ukraine.” The Guggenheim Museum mentioned he resigned from the board.

Potanin has sprawling pursuits that embody a Russian pharmaceutical agency, a ski resort, a copper challenge and at the very least two superyachts. 


After constructing his fortune, Potanin started reinventing himself as philanthropist — turning into the primary Russian to hitch Invoice Gates’s and Warren Buffett’s Giving Pledge in 2013. He chairs the Hermitage Growth Basis, an endowment for the state museum in Saint Petersburg that was based in 1764 with a group of work acquired by Catherine the Nice.

On his basis’s web site, Potanin mentioned he needs philanthropy to be “extra systemic, extra business-like,” calling it a “huge, infinite house that may by no means diminish.”

–With help from Amanda L Gordon and Devon Pendleton.

(Aside from the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV workers and is revealed from a syndicated feed.)