Blavatnik attended Moscow University of Railway Engineering until his family immigrated to the US in 1978 — he gained citizenship in 1984.
He went on to earn his masters degree in computer science at Columbia University and his MBA at Harvard Business School. He has remained loyal to his alma mater, donating $50 million to Harvard in 2013 to sponsor life sciences entrepreneurship.
In 1986, Blavatnik founded Access Industries, a privately held industrial company. Initially, AI was involved in Russian investments but has since diversified its portfolio. AI now invests natural resources and chemicals, media and telecommunications, technology and e-commerce, and real estate.
The Russian-American is known for his lucrative, and often risky, business deals. In 2011, he lifted petrochemicals maker LyondellBasell out of bankruptcy amid the financial crisis for north of $2 billion. By 2014, the value of his stake had jumped to more than $10 billion, leading some to call it the greatest deal in Wall Street history. The Federal Trade Commission slapped him with a comparatively tiny $656,000 fine last year for failing to properly report his investments in the company.
He's also made power moves in fashion. Blavatnik's company became the first and largest outside investor in upscale fashion and accessories brand Tory Burch when it purchased 20% of the company in 2004. Today, AI has a 10% stake in the $3 billion powerhouse retailer.
Blavatnik owns AI Film, the independent movie and production company that’s behind acclaimed film Lee Daniels’ "The Butler" and "Rocketman," the forthcoming Elton John biopic.
Source: AI Film
During the Cannes Film Festival in France every year, Blavatnik hosts an exclusive luncheon aboard his yacht, The Odessa at Old Port, along with film partner and friend Harvey Weinstein of The Weinstein Company.
He's also invested in emerging technology companies Spotify and Beats Electronics. Billboard recently named him one of the 10 most powerful people in music.
He has various investments in personal and commercial real estate, too. His company has been partnered with hospitality outfit Faena Group since 2000 to transform Puerto Madero in Buenos Aires, Argentina, into one of the most valuable pieces of real estate in Argentina.
In 2014, AI acquired the One&Only Ocean Club on Paradise Island in the Bahamas for an undisclosed amount.
Source: Caribbean Journal
In 2004, Blavatnik spent more than $100 million buying his first UK property on Kensington Palace Gardens, an area in London where the mega-rich reside (he only lives there part of the time). He spent years refurbishing the home — it's now estimated to be worth more than $300 million.
Last spring, Blavatnik paid $77.5 million for New York Jet's owner Woody Johnson's Manhattan apartment. There was no public listing for the apartment but original floor plans for the building show his 6,700-square-foot unit has 13 rooms, including four bedrooms and 6.5 baths.
Blavatnik doesn't only care about accumulating billions — he's also a notable, global philanthropist. The Blavatnik Family Foundation supports the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the National Gallery of Art, the Royal Academy of Arts, and Colel Chabad, a 20,000-square-foot food bank and warehouse in Israel. In 2014, he made a donation of $20 million to Tel Aviv University to support scientific research.
Source: Philanthropy News Digest