Leonid Mikhelson: Famous Billionaire Businessman
Zatrun Published at June 06, 2023

In our article “Who is Leonid Mikhelson: Famous Billionaire Businessman 101”, we will delve into everything you need to know about the renowned billionaire businessman, as our readers at have been curious about.

Leonid Mikhelson

Who is Leonid Mikhelson?

Leonid Viktorovich Mikhelson is a Russian-Israeli billionaire businessman. He is the CEO, Chairman, and largest shareholder of Russian gas company Novatek. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Mikhelson became a shareholder in a privatized pipeline construction company and founded Novatek from it. He is a business partner of Russian billionaire Gennady Timchenko and a close advisor to Russian leader Vladimir Putin. According to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, as of August 2022, Mikhelson’s net worth is estimated to be $28.8 billion, making him the world’s 44th richest person and Russia’s second richest person.

Leonid Mikhelson is married and has two children. He resides in Moscow. His daughter, Victoria, studied art history at New York University and the Courtauld Institute in London. Mikhelson has a foundation named “VAC Foundation Victoria, the Art of Being Contemporary” in honor of his daughter. He also holds Israeli citizenship. Mikhelson was among several Russian “oligarchs” mentioned under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) signed by Donald Trump in 2017.

Education and Career:

Leonid Mikhelson, born to an Ashkenazi Jewish family, began his career as an engineer after graduating from the Samara State Institute of Industrial and Civil Engineering in 1977 with a degree in Industrial Civil Engineering. He started working as a chief engineer in a construction and installation company in the Tyumen region of Siberia. One of his first projects was working on the Urengoi-Chelyabinsk gas pipeline project. In 1985, he was appointed as the Chief Engineer of Ryazantruboprovodstroy. In 1987, he became the General Director of Kuibishevtruboprovodstroy. In 1991, Kuibishevtruboprovodstroy was one of the first companies to be privatized after the dissolution of the Soviet Union.

Leonid Mikhelson continued to work as the General Director of the renamed NOVA company and served as the Managing Director until October 1994. He then became the General Director of the holding company Novafinivest, which later became known as NOVATEK. From 2008 to 2010, Mikhelson was the Chairman of the Board of OAO Stroytransgas and OOO Art Finance. He currently serves as the Chairman of the Board of ZAO SIBUR and on the Supervisory Board of OAO Russian Regional Development Bank. SIBUR is a gas processing and petrochemical company with 26 production facilities across Russia and headquartered in Moscow. Mikhelson owns 57.5% of Sibur and also has a 25% stake in Novatek.

In addition, he owns the megayacht Pacific. Mikhelson is also an art enthusiast and has stated that “99% of his interest” is in Russian and contemporary art. He established his own foundation, the V-A-C Foundation, which promotes contemporary Russian art and has international connections with the New Museum in New York, the Tate museums in England, and the Whitechapel Gallery in London. In May 2017, the foundation opened an exhibition space in Venice and is currently working on developing its first major art center in Moscow. The main site of the center will be a historic power station on the banks of the Moscow River, designed by the Renzo Piano Building Workshop.

The new contemporary art and cultural center in Moscow is planned to open in 2021.

Prominent Partnerships:

Leonid Mikhelson is known for his frequent partnerships with fellow Russian billionaire Gennady Timchenko on various business and investment projects. They are both partners and majority shareholders in Novatek and Sibur. In 2013, Mikhelson and Timchenko sold 12% of Sibur to management partners. Mikhelson and Timchenko are listed on Forbes’ billionaire list. In 2012, Mikhelson was listed as Russia’s second richest person by numerous publications including Bloomberg. Mikhelson and Novatek are sponsors of the Russian Football Federation. He is also a recipient of the Order of Honour of the Russian Federation.

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