It’s Mother vs. Son in Britain’s Priciest Divorce War

It’s Mother vs. Son in Britain’s Priciest Divorce War

It’s Mother vs. Son in Britain’s Priciest Divorce War

It’s Mother vs. Son in Britain’s Priciest Divorce War

For the United Kingdom, the influx of Russian capital — and capital from the super rich in other parts of the world — had upsides. Real estate prices and tax coffers were plumped, and a mini industry of accountants, lawyers and advisers sprang up, all of whom helped these émigrés navigate the tax codes and buy big-ticket items, like soccer teams.

This mutually beneficial relationship has had its share of hiccups, and the Akhmedov divorce is one of them. A native of Azerbaijan, Mr. Akhmedov had earned an estimated $1.4 billion through a Siberian energy company, Northgas, and he long seemed intent on enjoying his riches.

In addition to mansions, a private jet, helicopters and masterpieces by artists like Rothko and Warhol, he bought a $500 million yacht, the Luna, from his fellow oligarch Roman Abramovich. It is 380 feet of floating luxury, with nine decks, space for 18 guests, a crew of 50 and — just in case — a missile detection system and bombproof doors.

Allegations of infidelity made by both husband and wife led to divorce, but Mr. Akhmedov refused to even send a lawyer to the 2016 proceedings, arguing that the couple were already divorced. A court in Moscow dissolved the marriage in 2000, he said.

Judge Charles Haddon-Cave, who oversaw that trial, was unimpressed. He described as “forged” the documents supporting the Moscow divorce. When Ms. Akhmedova was unable to collect more than a sliver of her record-setting award, the judge ordered her ex-husband to hand her his yacht. He refused.

By then, Ms. Akhmedova had signed up with Burford Capital, a publicly traded litigation funding company, which has underwritten millions in legal fees for her lawyers and provided her with millions for living expenses. The company will reportedly take a 30 percent cut of any recovery, plus a multiple of legal expenses.


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