2012 Mining Billionaires: #12 Mikhail Prokhorov

#12 Mikhail Prokhorov

Apart from being fabulously wealthy – net worth $13.2 billion and 58th richest man in the world – Mikhail Prokhorov, is a lot of things.

At 46 and single he has been called the most eligible bachelor in the world and fits the title plaboy to a t. He even managed to scandalize the French (no mean feat) when in 2007 at the French Alpine resort of Courchevel, he was arrested for allegedly flying in prostitutes for his Russian Christmas party guests. The charges went nowhere and he was eventually exonerated.

He ran against Vladimir Putin in Russia’s March presidential election garnering only 8% of the vote and never shaking off the image as not much more than a ‘Kremlin project’. His campaign was slightly unorthodox and featured an appearance on a Russian comedy show where his awkward foot stomping and fist punching (see video below) emboldened him to declare: “I am real Russian Eminem.”

He is a 6’8″ martial arts expert and ‘freestyle’ jet ski champ and indulged his passion for sports by buying the New Jersey Nets.

Prokhorov is from proud Russian farm stock, made his money during the Yeltzin era snagging a majority stake in Norilsk Nickel during the notorious privatization process of the early 1990s with Vladimir Potanin. The steered the company together for 16 years, but their friendship came to an abrupt end when Prokhorov sold his Norilsk stake to fellow oligarch Oleg Deripeska.

The Moscow Institute of Finance graduate is not always very careful with his money – in 2010 he forfeited a $55 million deposit (plus accumulated interest) on a French Riviera mansion because he did not ask for a refund during the 7-day cooling off period according to French law.

He lost more than that in 2011 and according to Forbes his holdings is now worth $5 billion less than a year ago, but a planned listing of Prokhorov’s 38%-owned Polyus Gold in London could change that. Polyus has the world’s third largest gold proven and probable reserves, behind Barrick and Newmont, at 90.5 million ounces.

He is very close to his sister Irina with whom he shares a Moscow mansion. Irina runs a literary magazine and after a televised interview during Mikhail’s campaign was dubbed ‘Russia’s Angela Merkel‘.

Forbes reports Prokhorov “is also publishing a Russian-language magazine, Snob, in the U.S. Back home, Prokhorov is spending $200 million to help make Russia’s first hybrid, the Yo.”


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