A Rocky Mountain mansion owned by Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich would likely be one of the first assets to be frozen by the US government if sanctioned by the White House in response to the war in Ukraine, according to lawyers and real estate managers.
One of Abramovich’s many global real estate trophies is a modern 14,000-square-foot mega-home on 200 acres in Snowmass, Colorado, just outside Aspen. The Russian billionaire, whose yacht fleet, football team and giant houses in London, France and St. Bart’s held him in high esteem in the West, bought the property in 2008 for $36.5 million. Local real estate agents say the property would likely sell for more than $50 million given the rising prices — making it the second most expensive home ever sold in the Aspen area.
“It’s an incredible property and very rare,” said Riley Warwick, co-founder of the Aspen-based real estate team Saslove & Warwick at Douglas Elliman Real Estate. “Many of my clients have asked about it.”
Abramovich also owns a 5,500-square-foot chalet-style home in Snowmass Village, which he bought in 2008 for $11.8 million, according to local property records. The property, just down the road from his larger home, likely doubles as a guest house, caretaker’s residence or ski house, as it sits next to the slopes, local estate agents say.
Experts say the properties will be the main target for an asset freeze if Abramovich is sanctioned. Unlike most real estate owned by oligarchs in the US, Snowmass properties were both purchased and in Abramovich’s name, according to local property records. The government can more easily and quickly seize assets officially owned by a sanctioned person because they don’t have to go through legal procedures to establish ownership.
Most US real estate owned by Russian billionaires and oligarchs is held by anonymous shell companies or LLCs to hide their true property. Many oligarchs have also transferred their properties in the US to relatives or associates in recent years. Oleg Deripaska has transferred his real estate in the US, including two mansions in Manhattan and a house in Washington, DC, to relatives. Abramovich transferred ownership of three Manhattan townhouses to his ex-wife Dasha Zhukova in 2018.
Abramovich is sanctioned in the UK and Canada, but not in the European Union or the US. The White House is currently considering whether to include Abramovich in the next round of sanctions, according to people familiar with the discussions.
Abramovich’s spokesman could not be reached for comment. Denver attorney Brad Schacht, who represented Abramovich in a lawsuit against Comcast Cable over a fiber optic project on the property, did not respond to a request for comment.
The threat of a Justice Department seizure has already sparked widespread speculation and intrigue in Aspen, a small town of excessive wealth and super-sized homes. Wal-Mart heiress Ann Walton Kroenke, L Brands founder Leslie Wexner, food and beverage tycoons Stuart and Linda Resnick have a home there, along with the parents of Jeff Bezos and media mogul Byron Allen. Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell are longtime Aspenites, and the Kardashians, Kate Hudson and Kevin Hart are among the parade of regular Hollywood visitors.
According to locals, Abramovich used to have a more prominent role in the city, hosting a New Year’s Eve party with the Pussycat Dolls in 2008. He has also given to local charities, with his name prominently listed as a donor to the Chabad of Aspen. Local property tax records show he recently received $68,000 in property taxes for the large home and $29,000 for the smaller property.
Over the past decade, however, Abramovich has stayed out of the local spotlight. Local entrepreneurs and residents say he rarely, if ever, visits. The property is ideally suited for privacy, surrounded by 200 acres at the end of a secluded narrow mountain road with only one other house. Abramovich could easily make the 15-minute drive from his private jet and stay at his home without any public scrutiny, locals say.
“That house is very private and is being removed,” realtor Warwick said. “He could easily slip in and out without anyone noticing.”
The house is a household name in architectural circles and was designed by Voorsanger Architects from New York. It sits nearly 300 feet above Snowmass Village and rises like a giant glass wedge along Wildcat Ridge. The folded-plate steel roof, which looks like a giant wing, is designed for heavy snow loads and rises 40 feet above the driveway.
Inside, the home is clad in sleek black walnut with floor-to-ceiling windows that provide dramatic views of Capitol Peak, Mount Daly, the Roaring Fork Valley, and Aspen. A 12-meter high moss rock wall divides the east and west wings. Realtors say Abramovich added millions of dollars in improvements to the home, including the space underground.
If Abramovich is sanctioned, the US Justice Department’s new KleptoCapture Task Force will likely be able to freeze property, but not seize or take over property. Sanctions experts say the government can only win title if they can prove Abramovich committed a US crime.
Meanwhile, potential wealthy buyers are already circling around. Like many ultra-rich post-pandemic cities, Aspen is short of luxury homes for sale, with buyers far outnumbering sellers. According to Douglas Elliman Real Estate, the supply of single-family homes in Aspen is down 60% from a year ago. The average selling price of a home in Aspen is now a record $13 million.
“A lot of my clients ask what the status of the house is and if it’s frozen,” Warwick said. “There has been no information.”
Warwick said that brokers hungry for offers have also likely contacted Abramovich to get him sold.
“He’s not the easiest guy to get hold of right now,” he said. “But I wouldn’t be surprised if many brokers try it.”
This post Oligarch Roman Abramovich’s $50 Million Colorado Mansion Could Become a Target for Sanctions was original published at “https://www.cnbc.com/2022/03/20/oligarch-roman-abramovichs-50-million-colorado-mansion-could-become-a-sanctions-target.html”