Saturday, April 30, 2011

'Guardian' on Akhmetov's new London apartment..on a busy main road...

"Poor old Rinat Akhmetov. He coughs up £136m for the world's most expensive apartment, on a busy road in central London, then has to find another £60m for carpets and curtains. The Ukrainian billionaire has purchased two flats in the 1 Hyde Park development and will knock them into one 25,000 sq ft pad. The refit will cost another £60m, or so we're told. Perhaps the cutlery tray will be lined with a Persian rug.

Our Peter Beardsley-lookalike, listed by Forbes magazine as "self-made" (it seems he made lots of ties with the country's first post-Soviet prime minister), spends much of his time back in Donetsk, from where he runs a vast conglomerate of steel and mining businesses.

So we thought we'd help out a bit with the refit, and popped along to Peter Jones, down the road on Sloane Square. We looked for the most expensive everything. The priciest sofa; the most luxurious bed; the most absurdly priced pepper pot, that sort of thing.

We found a bedsheet for £160. A blender for £439. A fridge for £12,500. Yep, that's right, there are people, a few ice cubes short of a full tray, who will spend £12,500 on a fridge. But even after scouring the store, our work experience person reckoned she'd struggle to spend a hundred grand.

That left us with £59.9m burning a hole in our pocket, so we headed off to Harrods, perhaps more suitable for your average oligarch. It found us a bathtub, sculpted from flawless white rock crystal quarried in the Amazon and, hey, it's only £500,000. Now we're talking, we thought. But even Harrods admitted it might struggle to fit out a flat and spend £60m.

In Donetsk, the locals might not quite see the funny side. Ukraine is agriculturally rich, but its people are dirt poor. Male life expectancy is just 62. Its economy contracted 15% in 2009, among the worst performances in the world. GDP per head is just £1,485. Put it another way, the cost of that one apartment off Hyde Park represents the annual income of 135,000 Ukrainians. Still, I'm sure Rinat earned every penny of that "self-made" fortune."

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