Goga Ashkenazi

Goga Ashkenazi (born Gaukhar Yerkinovna Berkalieva; Kazakh: Гауһар Еркінқызы Берқалиева, Gaýhar Erkinqyzy Berqalıeva; 1 February 1980) is a Kazakh businesswoman and socialite. She is the founder and CEO of MunaiGaz Engineering Group, a Kazakh oil and gas conglomerate. Since 2012, she has been head of the fashion label Vionnet, based in Milan.[4][5]

Goga Ashkenazi
Гога Ашкенази
Gaukhar Yerkinovna Berkalieva[1]

(1980-02-01) 1 February 1980 (age 41)
EducationSomerville College, Oxford
OccupationEntrepreneur, businesswoman
Stefan Ashkenazy
(m. 2003⁠–⁠2007)
RelativesSeveryn Ashkenazy (former father-in-law)

Early life and educationEdit

Ashkenazi was born in the Zhambyl Oblast, Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic. She was raised in Moscow, where her father, engineer Yerkin Berkaliev, was a member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party under Mikhail Gorbachev. Her mother, Saule, has degrees in both engineering and medicine. She has a sister, Meruert, who is 10 years older.[6]

After the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, her family returned to Kazakhstan. Eager for their daughter to get a competitive education, her parents sent the 12-year-old Goga to boarding school in England.[4] She first attended Buckswood Grange School in East Sussex followed by Stowe School, but was rusticated after being caught kissing a boy.[3][6] She then attended Rugby School, earning five A levels. She studied at Somerville College, Oxford, graduating in 2001 with a degree in modern history and economics.[6][7]


After leaving Oxford, Ashkenazi worked at investment banking firms, including Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley in London and ABN AMRO in Hong Kong.[6]

In 2003, Ashkenazi founded the MunaiGaz Engineering Group with her sister, Meruert.[3] The company constructs compressor stations for gas pipelines and tunnelling operations for utility networks, gas turbine and diesel plants.

Ashkenazi took over Vionnet in 2012. She says she spent a year in Italy studying art, design, fashion and the Italian language.[8]

Ashkenazi is also on the board of Ivanhoe Mining Group.[3]

Personal lifeEdit

At age 23, she met and married American Stefan Ashkenazy, whose father Severyn Ashkenazy founded the L'Ermitage Hotel Group.[6] The couple separated in 2004 and divorced in 2007, but she retained his last name, albeit with a different spelling due to a typo on her Russian passport. Her parents are both sworn atheists as members of the Communist Party, but her father is of Muslim background and Goga is Jewish through her maternal grandmother. Halachically Jewish, Goga notes she did not need to convert to marry Ashkenazy in a Jewish ceremony. She also says that in her purse she carries a page from a 1,200-year-old Torah.[4]

Ashkenazi had an extramarital affair with billionaire Timur Kulibayev, the son-in-law of the president of Kazakhstan.[3][9] She and Kulibayev have two sons: Adam, born in 2007 and Alan, born in 2012. She divides her time between Milan, where she works on Vionnet, and London, where her children live.[4][6]

She is close friends with Prince Andrew, Duke of York,[3][6] as well as banker Nat Rothschild, real estate developer Nick Candy, Duran Duran band member Nick Rhodes and Lord Edward Spencer-Churchill.[7]

Her first name, Gaukhar, means diamond in Kazakh, while her sister Meruert's name means pearl.[3]


  1. ^ "Ограбление не портит Гоге настроение". Forbes Kazakhstan (in Russian). 15 January 2013. Retrieved 3 October 2015.
  2. ^ Kerbaj, Richard (17 March 2013). "Kazakh millionaire fights Home Office visa ban". The Sunday Times. Retrieved 3 October 2015.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Slater, Lydia (3 June 2010). "High flyer – Goga Ashkenazi takes over the world". London Evening Standard. Retrieved 3 October 2015.
  4. ^ a b c d Konigsberg, Eric (11 February 2015). "Goga Ashkenazi: Fashion's First Female Oligarch". New York. Retrieved 3 October 2015.
  5. ^ Bagley, Christopher (28 March 2014). "Gaga for Goga". W Magazine. Archived from the original on 15 August 2018. Retrieved 30 July 2020.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g Slater, Lydia (6 April 2013). "Goga Ashkenazi: not your average oligarch". The Times. Retrieved 3 October 2015.
  7. ^ a b Burrell, Ian (12 March 2011). "Goga Ashkenazi: By royal ascent". The Independent. Retrieved 20 July 2017.
  8. ^ Martin, J.J. (13 October 2013). "Vionnet's Lady Goga". Harper's Bazaar.
  9. ^ Kuper, Simon (21 June 2013). "Lunch with the FT: Goga Ashkenazi". Financial Times. Retrieved 3 October 2015.

External linksEdit