Moscow - Russian
billionaire and Chelsea football club owner Roman Abramovich and his
wife, gallerist Darya or "Dasha" Zhukova, have separated, a spokesperson
for Abramovich confirmed.
"After 10 years together, the two of us have made the difficult
decision to separate, but we remain close friends, parents, and partners
in the projects we developed together," the two said in a statement
sent to AFP on Monday by Abramovich's spokesperson John Mann.
Abramovich, 50, is Russia's 12th richest businessman, according to
Forbes magazine, with a fortune of $9.1 billion made from steel, mining,
real estate and telecommunications. The oligarch has owned Chelsea
football club since 2003.
Abramovich and Zhukova have two children together, a son Aaron and a daughter Leah Lou.
In the couple's joint statement, they said they are "committed to jointly raising our two children."
Abramovich divorced his second wife Irina Malandina, a former
stewardess, in 2007 after a marriage lasting 16 years. They had five
children together and ended their marriage in Russia with no details of
the divorce made public. But according to Russian media the settlement
was reported to be just $300 million plus covering the children's
Abramovich's first marriage was brief, from 1987 to 1991 with Olga Lysova.
Abramovich served as governor for Russia's deprived far-northern
region of Chukotka from 2000, the year Vladimir Putin became president,
before quitting of his own accord in 2008.
He has since largely fallen out of the public eye in Russia although
he is pictured attending events including concerts and film premieres.
Zhukova founded a popular contemporary arts centre and gallery in
Moscow, Garage, which is located in the city's Gorky Park, also
collaborating with Abramovich on the New Holland arts centre in Saint
The couple said that "we will also continue to work together as
co-founders of the Garage Museum of Contemporary Art in Moscow and the
New Holland Island cultural centre in Saint Petersburg."
The daughter of a wealthy businessman, Zhukova moved to the United
States as a child with her mother and speaks fluent English. She studied
Slavic literature at university.
Her interest in art initially provoked ridicule in the media due to
her lack of education and expertise in the field but the Financial Times
wrote that she has turned Garage into "a world-class art destination."
She regularly appears at social events including the Cannes Film
Festival in May. She reportedly attended Donald Trump's inauguration as a
guest of his daughter Ivanka.
Ivanka and her husband Jared Kushner have been photographed attending
a Chelsea game and the US Tennis Open together with Zhukova.