March 14, 2012 / 10:03 PM / 6 years ago

UPDATE 1-Russian tycoon sued by wife over Weill condo

* Rybolovlev accused of shielding penthouse in divorce case

* $88 mln apartment bought from ex-Citigroup CEO Weill, wife

By Jonathan Stempel and Karen Freifeld

March 14 (Reuters) - A Russian tycoon has been sued by his estranged wife over his $88 million purchase of a Manhattan penthouse from former Citigroup Inc Chief Executive Sanford “Sandy” Weill and his wife Joan.

Dmitry Rybolovlev, 45, worth an estimated $9 billion and the world’s 100th richest person according to Forbes magazine, formed a sham entity to buy the apartment for his daughter Ekaterina, solely to shield it from his wife Elena in divorce proceedings, according to a lawsuit filed Wednesday in a New York state court in Manhattan.

Elena Rybolovleva, also 45, said she had begun divorce proceedings in Switzerland in 2008 after 21 years of marriage, and that a Geneva court later imposed a freeze on some of her husband’s assets.

Despite this, she said her husband has been using marital property to buy a multitude of other assets through a variety of trusts and limited liability companies, hoping to put those assets beyond her reach.

Rybolovleva said these assets include majority ownership in French soccer club AS Monaco, a $295 million stake in Bank of Cyprus, and a $95 million Palm Beach, Florida home purchased from another tycoon, Donald Trump.

“She wants her fair share,” said David Newman, a partner at Day Pitney in New York who represents Rybolovleva, in an interview. “She hopes to get a substantial judgment in the Swiss divorce, and if there are no assets or only a small amount of assets from which to satisfy it, it’s a Pyrrhic victory.”

Rybolovlev made much of his fortune from the 2010 sale of his stake in fertilizer company Uralkali for $6.5 billion.

Marc Salis, a lawyer who represented Rybolovlev on the purchase of the home from the Weills, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Rybolovleva is seeking a constructive trust over the penthouse “to ensure that assets are available to satisfy any monetary judgment” she may be awarded in Switzerland. She has filed a similar lawsuit in Florida over the Palm Beach home.

The Feb. 15 sale of the 6,744-square-foot penthouse at 15 Central Park West, a building designed by the architect Robert A.M. Stern, has been described as the highest price ever paid for a Manhattan apartment.

Newman said the divorce “doesn’t appear” close to a resolution. Referring to media reports that Ekaterina may be attending school in New York, he said about the penthouse: “Wouldn’t you like to have that as your dorm?”

The case is Rybolovleva v. Rybolovlev et al, New York State Supreme Court, New York County, No. 102168/2012.

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