A view of the penthouse apartment at 15 Central Park West in New York, which Dmitry Rybolovlev reportedly purchased for his daughter for $88 million. (Brown Harris Stevens)
Dmitry Rybolovlev, the billionaire who purchased the most expensive property in New York City, is facing a lawsuit from his wife Elena Rybolovleva. She claims he purchased the $88 million penthouse as "housing for daughter with the real purpose of secreting assets," according to court documents.
On March 14, Rybolovleva sued her billionaire husband alleging for his personal use Rybolovlev "fraudulently transferred property acquired during his marriage," violating a Swiss Court order. The suit alleges he used the property to purchase the penthouse at 15 Central Park West, which once belonged to former Citibank CEO Sandy Weill, for his own personal use.
The couple are currently in the middle of divorce filed by Rybolovleva in December of 2008. According to court documents, the Order of the First Section of the Court Justice of the Republic and Canton of Geneva, Switzerland allegedly imposed a provisional freeze of shares and assets which should have prevented the purchase of the property.
A spokesperson for Crowe Horwath, which is listed as the company in care of the company that owns 15 Central Park West, told ABC News, "many clients use our address and client matters are confidential."
David B. Newman, an attorney for wife Rybolovleva, told ABC News, "Mr. Rybolovlev has taken assets that were acquired during the marriage and has moved them to places to make the unavailable to the wife.,"
The Day Pitney attorney continued, "We want to make sure that the asset is protected and available so that when Mrs. Rybolovleva gets her monetary action" following her divorce from the Russian billionaire."
According to the lawsuit, Rybolovlev allegedly "formed a sham entity for the sole purpose and with the specific intent of hiding and diverting his personal interest in the property."
"Mr. Rybolovlev has lots and lots of assets and they're all over the world and we're trying to do what we can in regards to the assets in the United States," said Newman.
The New York City property came with a hefty price tag of 66 percent more than previous record sale, according to The Wall Street Journal. The sale of the home with wraparound terrace brought in city and state taxes of around $2.5 million, according to WSJ.
Why the $88 million home? The two allegedly looked at the home before divorce proceedings but the Weills were not looking to sell, according to Rybololeva's attorney.
"If you look at these Russian oligarch, they want to buy the biggest and best and most expensive," said Newman. Another example is the $95 million mansion purchased from Donald Trump in Florida.
Rybolovlev's attorney in the Florida dispute could not comment on the New York state lawsuit.
He continued, "if you look at someone like that they're very ego driven. They want to get the biggest and the best, and that appears to be what he wants to do."
Whether Ekaterina Rybolovleva, the 22-year-old daughter of the couple, uses the property is irrelevant, according to Rybolovlev, who says the lawsuit is about the parents and not the children. The couple has two children.
The fertilizer billionaire with an estimated net worth of $9 billion is expected to contest the suit.
Rybolovleva is asking the court for a "constructive trust" over the multi-million dollar property and the trust company so that it "cannot be alienated, conveyed, encumbered, transferred or wasted" pending the ruling of the Swiss court and an award of costs and attorney fees.
- Dmitry Rybolovlev