Len Blavatnik

Sir Leonard Valentinovich Blavatnik (Ukrainian: Леонід Валентинович Блаватнік, Russian: Леонид Валентинович Блаватник, Leonid Valentinovich Blavatnik; born June 14, 1957) is an American-British businessman, investor, and philanthropist. He made his fortune through business via diversified investments in myriad companies through his conglomerate company, Access Industries.

Sir Leonard Blavatnik
Leonard Blavatnik, February 2018 (4568) (cropped).jpg
Born (1957-06-14) June 14, 1957 (age 64)
  • United Kingdom
  • United States[1]
EducationMoscow State University of Railway Engineering
Columbia University (M.S.)
Harvard Business School (M.B.A.)
OccupationFounder of Access Industries
Spouse(s)Emily Appelson

As of May 2021, Blavatnik was the wealthiest man in the United Kingdom.[3] As of April 17, 2021, Bloomberg Billionaires Index listed Blavatnik as the 35th wealthiest person in the world, with an estimated net worth of US$39.9 billion.[2] In 2017, Blavatnik received a knighthood for services to philanthropy.[4]

Early life and educationEdit

Blavatnik was born in Odessa, Soviet Ukraine, to a Jewish family.[5][6] He attended Moscow State University of Railway Engineering, but did not complete his coursework due to the family's request for emigration visas. His family emigrated from the Soviet Union to the United States of America in 1978, and he received a master's degree in computer science from Columbia University and an MBA from Harvard Business School in 1989.[7][5]


In 1986, Blavatnik founded Access Industries, an international conglomerate company located in New York, of which he is chairman and president. Access has long-term holdings in Europe and North and South America. Initially, he moved into Russian investments, just after the fall of communism. He and a friend from university, Viktor Vekselberg, formed the Renova investment vehicle, and then the two joined with Mikhail Fridman's Alfa Group to form the AAR venture.[8] Access has since diversified its portfolio to include investments in industries such as oil, entertainment, coal, aluminum, petrochemicals and plastics, telecommunications, media, and real estate.[9][better source needed]

Petrochemicals and oilEdit

In August 2005, Access Industries bought petrochemicals and plastics manufacturer Basell Polyolefins from Royal Dutch Shell and BASF for $5.7 billion. On December 20, 2007, Basell completed its acquisition of the Lyondell Chemical Company for an enterprise value of approximately $19 billion. The resulting company, LyondellBasell Industries then became the world's eighth largest chemical company based on net sales.[10] On January 6, 2009, the U.S. operations of LyondellBasell Industries filed for bankruptcy.[11]

On April 30, 2010, LyondellBasell emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in a significantly improved financial position. As part of its exit financing, LyondellBasell raised $3.25 billion of first priority debt as well as $2.8 billion through the rights offering jointly underwritten by Access Industries, Apollo Management, and Ares Management.[12] LyondellBasell stock has increased 103% in value since April 2010. Access currently owns approximately 14% of LyondellBasell.

AAR gained a controlling stake in Russian oil company TNK through privatization auctions, then in 2003 sold a 50% stake to British Petroleum to form TNK-BP, one of Russia's largest oil companies, where Blavatnik served on the board of directors. On March 21, 2013, Rosneft completed its $55 billion acquisition of TNK-BP. Blavatnik also has interests in UC Rusal, the world's largest aluminum producer, where he sat on the board from 2007-2016.[13][14]


In 2010, Blavatnik sued JPMorgan Chase after losing $100 million by allegedly following Morgan's advice three years earlier to buy mortgage securities with AAA credit ratings.[15] JPMorgan Chase was ordered to pay $50 million to Blavatnik on August 27, 2013.[16]


In early 2010, Access Industries was reported as one of the handful of bidders for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.[17]

On May 6, 2011, Warner Music Group announced its sale to Access for US$3.3 billion.[13] On July 20, 2011, an Access affiliate acquired Warner Music Group for $3.3 billion.[18][19]

In 2016, Blavatnik launched Access Entertainment, which bought James Packer's stake in RatPac Entertainment and a 24.9% stake in Bad Wolf in 2017.[20][21]

In April 2018, it was reported that Blavatnik was a front runner in the bidding to purchase Britain's third oldest theatre, the Theatre Royal Haymarket. Sources report that the bid was around £40 million.[22] Blavatnik’s Access Entertainment finalized its purchase of the Theatre Royal Haymarket in June 2018.[23][24]

Blavatnik also owns AI Film, the independent film and production company which backed Lee Daniels’ film The Butler and the summer 2015 release Mr. Holmes.[25] He was an early investor in Rocket Internet and Beats Music, helped finance fashion designer Tory Burch, and in 2013 paid $115 million for wireless spectrum in Norway.[26]

Blavatnik has been the owner of DAZN Group since 2014, when Access Industries increased its stake in the company from 42.5% to 77%.[27]

Board membershipEdit

Blavatnik is a member of the Global Advisory Board of the Centre for International Business and Management at Cambridge University, a member of the board of Dean's Advisors at the Harvard Business School, a member of the Harvard Medical School Board of Fellows,[28] and a member of the academic board at Tel Aviv University.[29]


Blavatnik and Israeli President Reuven Rivlin with young scientists who have been awarded the Blavatnik Awards for Young Scientists, February 2018

Blavatnik, the Blavatnik Family Foundation and Access companies have supported many cultural and philanthropic institutions over the past 15 years, including serving as the primary benefactors for numerous major art and cultural exhibitions, including the British Museum, Tate Modern (which named a new wing the "Blavatnik Building" in 2017[30]), Royal Opera House, National Portrait Gallery and Museum of Modern Art. Since 2007, the Blavatnik Family Foundation together with the New York Academy of Sciences has supported the Blavatnik Awards for Young Scientists. The annual award recognizes the accomplishments of outstanding young scientists in life sciences, physical sciences and engineering and provides all finalists with a significant cash prize.[31]

Blavatnik sponsors a Colel Chabad 20,000-square-foot (1,900 m2) food bank and warehouse in Kiryat Malakhi, Israel, which sends monthly food shipments to 5,000 poor families in 25 Israeli cities, and before Jewish holidays to 30,000 families in 73 Israeli cities, towns and villages.[32]

In 2010, it was announced that Blavatnik and the Blavatnik Family Foundation would donate £75 million to the University of Oxford to establish a new school of government.[33] The gift is one of the largest philanthropic gifts in the university's 900-year history. Blavatnik also indicated the possibility of increasing his benefaction up to £100 million over time.[34] The Blavatnik School of Government began accepting students in September 2012, and the new permanent home of the school was constructed on the Radcliffe Observatory Quarter. The building, which was finished in summer 2015, was designed by the Swiss architects Herzog & de Meuron. The first dean of the school is professor Ngaire Woods.

In 2013, Harvard University announced a $50 million donation from Blavatnik's foundation to sponsor life sciences entrepreneurship at the university[35] and named the first five HBS graduates to receive the Blavatnik Fellowship in Life Science Entrepreneurship.[36] In 2018, Harvard Medical School announced a $200 million donation from Blavatnik's foundation to sponsor research, investments in data science, and the creation of subsidized lab space for biotech startups.[37]

Political donationsEdit

In 2011, Blavatnik donated to both President Barack Obama and his GOP rival, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney.[38]

Blavatnik, who is closely associated with Russian oligarchs such as Viktor Vekselberg and Oleg Deripaska, is one of the largest donors to the US Republican Party, and in 2015–2016 donated a total of $7.35 million to six Republican political candidates, including South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, Florida Senator Marco Rubio and Arizona Senator John McCain.[39][40][41] In February 2016, Blavatnik donated over $1 million to an anti-Donald Trump GOP group.[42] He also donated $1 million to the committee for the inauguration of Donald Trump.[39] In August 2017, political scientist Bo Rothstein resigned from the Blavatnik School of Government out of opposition to Blavatnik's politics.[43]

Blavatnik and his American wife, Emily, also donated to Democratic Party candidates Kamala Harris, Chuck Schumer, and Hillary Clinton.[44]

In 2017, after two senior Trump administration officials went on record as being lobbyists for Blavatnik's Access Industries,[45] Blavatnik was mentioned in investigations led by Special Counsel Robert Mueller into Russian donations to the administration.[46] Since April 2016 Blavatnik contributed $383,000 to the Republican National Committee and $1 million to Trump's inauguration fund. However, he did not give directly to the Trump campaign.[47] Between 2015 and 2017, Blavatnik contributed $3.5 million to Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell's super PAC.[48]

Blavatnik donated to the Pete Buttigieg 2020 presidential campaign and to the Joe Biden 2020 presidential campaign.[49]


In the Sunday Times Rich List 2015, Blavatnik was listed as the UK's richest person,[50] with a fortune of £16.9 billion. Forbes ranks Blavatnik as the 59th richest in the world as of November 2019. As of 2019, Len Blavatnik was ranked 27th in the Forbes 400 list.[51]

In May 2021, he once again topped the Sunday Times Rich List, having seen his wealth increase by £7.2bn in the year to a total of £23bn. In doing so he replaced Sir James Dyson, with £16.3bn.[3]

Personal lifeEdit

Blavatnik is married to Emily Appelson Blavatnik.[52] The couple have four children, including daughter Laila.[53][54]

He owns a Grade II listed building on "the most expensive street in the world" Kensington Palace Gardens (number 15) which is valued at £200 million. He acquired the lot in 2004 and can live conveniently near the ambassador of Russian Federation (number 13 on the street) [55] as well as a residence in Manhattan valued at more that $250 million.[56]

Blavatnik is a friend of former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and a big supporter of Trump.[57]

Blavatnik is also a longtime friend and business partner of Ukrainian-born Russian oligarch Viktor Vekselberg,[8] one of Russia's richest men, who is close to Russian President Vladimir Putin, and some other Russia-associated oligarchs being under Western sanctions for support of totalitarian regimes and criminal activities.[39]


In 2013 Blavatnik was made chevalier of the French Legion d'Honneur.[58] He was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in the 2017 Birthday Honours for services to philanthropy.[59]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "#22 Len Blavatnik". forbes.com. Retrieved January 17, 2017.
  2. ^ a b "Bloomberg Billionaires Index: Len Blavatnik". Bloomberg. Retrieved July 3, 2021.
  3. ^ a b "Leonard Blavatnik named UK's richest person with £23bn fortune". BBC News. May 21, 2021. Retrieved May 21, 2021.
  4. ^ "Queen's birthday honours: Ukrainian-born museum donor Leonard Blavatnik is made a knight".
  5. ^ a b "Russian-born U.S. billionaire offers to buy Ma'ariv", haaretz.com; accessed February 23, 2015.
  6. ^ "The world's 50 Richest Jews: 11-20: Len Blavatnik", jpost.com, September 7, 2010.
  7. ^ "Warner Music Suitor’s Record of Deal-Making". Ben Protess. DealBook. May 5, 2011
  8. ^ a b Yenikeyeff, Shamil, "BP, Russian billionaires, and the Kremlin: a Power Triangle that never was", Oxford Energy Comment, November 23, 2011; retrieved March 3, 2015.
  9. ^ "Meet Sir Leonard Blavatnik - Founder Of Access Industries". lollybook.com. Retrieved May 23, 2021.
  10. ^ "C&EN's Global Top 50 Chemical Firms For 2014". Chemical & Engineering News. Retrieved August 20, 2014.
  11. ^ LyondellBasell May Seek Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Protection, nytimes.com; accessed February 23, 2015.
  12. ^ LyondellBasell profile; accessed February 23, 2015.
  13. ^ a b Wilkerson, David B., "Warner Music to be sold in $3.3 billion cash deal", MarketWatch, May 6, 2011; retrieved May 6, 2011.
  14. ^ Foy, Henry; Seddon, Max. "From Russian oil to rock'n'roll: the rise of Len Blavatnik". Financial Times. Retrieved 4 October 2021.
  15. ^ Lawsuit against JPMorgan Chase, nytimes.com; accessed February 23, 2015.
  16. ^ JPMorgan Chase ordered to pay Blavatnik $50 million in damages, bbc.co.uk; accessed February 23, 2015.
  17. ^ MGM bidding by Access Industries, bloomberg.com; accessed February 23, 2015.
  18. ^ Sisario, Michael J. de la Merced and Ben. "Warner Music Is Sold, Ending a Long Auction". DealBook. Retrieved May 6, 2018.
  19. ^ "Access Industries buys Warner Music Group for $3.3bn - Music Business Worldwide". Music Business Worldwide. Retrieved January 28, 2016.
  20. ^ Barraclough, Leo (March 27, 2017). "Len Blavatnik, Danny Cohen's Access Entertainment Backs Bad Wolf (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety. Retrieved May 6, 2018.
  21. ^ Thomsen, Simon (April 20, 2017). "James Packer has sold his stake in Hollywood film company RatPac Entertainment". Business Insider Australia. Retrieved May 6, 2018.
  22. ^ "Billionaire Blavatnik leads race to buy prized West End theatre". Sky News. Retrieved May 6, 2018.
  23. ^ Brown, Mark. "Sir Leonard Blavatnik buys one of London's oldest theatres". The Guardian. Retrieved 4 October 2021.
  24. ^ Hershberg, Marc. "Billionaire Takes Over West End Theater In Record-Breaking Deal". Forbes. Retrieved 4 October 2021.
  25. ^ "Blavatnik owns AI Film, the independent film and production company that's behind acclaimed film Lee Daniels' The Butler and the summer 2015 release Mr. Holmes". Business Insider. Retrieved January 28, 2016.
  26. ^ "Len Blavatnik". Forbes. Retrieved January 28, 2016.
  27. ^ "Perform Group to de-list as Access Industries takes over". SBC News. November 13, 2014. Retrieved September 15, 2020.
  28. ^ "Board of Fellows | Harvard Medical School". hms.harvard.edu. Retrieved September 26, 2019.
  29. ^ "Academic Boards and Committees: Harvard University, Cambridge University, Tel Aviv University"
  30. ^ Ellis-Petersen, Hannah (May 4, 2017). "Tate Modern names extension after billionaire Len Blavatnik". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved October 18, 2017.
  31. ^ Profile, nyas.org; accessed February 23, 2015.
  32. ^ Colel Chabad profile, colelchabad.org; accessed February 23, 2015.
  33. ^ Blavatnik donation of £75 million to Oxford University Archived July 22, 2014, at the Wayback Machine, ox.ac.uk; accessed February 23, 2015.
  34. ^ "Oxford expands with billionaire's £75m gift". The Independent. September 20, 2010. Retrieved November 13, 2020.
  35. ^ $50 million donation to Harvard from Blavatnik, thecrimson.com; accessed February 23, 2015.
  36. ^ "Harvard Business School Names First Blavatnik Fellows in Life Science Entrepreneurship - News - Harvard Business School". www.hbs.edu. Retrieved May 6, 2018.
  37. ^ Harvard Med Gets Record Gift From Blavatnik to Speed Research, bloomberg.com; accessed November 8, 2018.
  38. ^ "Special counsel probing flow of Russian-American money to Trump political funds". ABC News. September 26, 2017.
  39. ^ a b c May, Ruth. "GOP campaigns took $7.35 million from oligarch linked to Russia". Dallas News. Retrieved August 28, 2017.
  40. ^ May, Ruth (May 8, 2018). "How Putin's oligarchs funneled millions into GOP campaigns: Campaign finance reports show troubling connections between a group of wealthy donors with ties to Russia and their political contributions to Trump and top Republican leaders". Dallas News. Retrieved January 21, 2021.
  41. ^ May, Ruth (May 18, 2018). "The simple explanation of the messy Russian investigation is one man's ego: Vladimir Putin is an egotistical leader who has money, power, and a deep desire to protect his wealth by projecting his power". Dallas News. Retrieved January 21, 2021.
  42. ^ "Warner owner Len Blavatnik pumps $1m into anti-Donald Trump group". Music Business Worldwide. March 22, 2016.
  43. ^ Weaver, Matthew (August 28, 2017). "Oxford University professor resigns in Donald Trump protest". The Guardian. Retrieved August 28, 2017.
  44. ^ "The Russians at the DNC". Politico. July 29, 2016.
  45. ^ "Exclusive: Two top Trump officials are ex-lobbyists for a billionaire with deep ties to Russian oligarchs". VICE News. Retrieved May 6, 2018.
  46. ^ "Special counsel Robert Mueller is asking Russian oligarchs if they gave money to Trump". Mother Jones. Retrieved May 6, 2018.
  47. ^ Brian Ross and Matthew Mosk (February 20, 2018). "Special counsel probing flow of Russian-American money to Trump political funds". ABC News. Retrieved May 6, 2018.
  48. ^ Pareene, Alex (March 21, 2019). "Nihilist In Chief". The New Republic. ISSN 0028-6583. Retrieved May 23, 2019.
  49. ^ PALMA, BETHANIA (February 12, 2020). "Did a 'Russian-Linked Oligarch' Fund Pete Buttigieg's Presidential Campaign?". snopes.com. Retrieved February 23, 2020.
  50. ^ "Music boss Len Blavatnik named as Britain's richest man". BBC News. April 26, 2015.
  51. ^ "Len Blavatnik". Forbes.
  52. ^ "Filipino housekeeper claims Leonard Blavatnik won't hire her because of her ethnicity - Virginia Lim files discrimination suit in U.S.", nydailynews.com, November 21, 2011.
  53. ^ Colacello, Bob. "Inside Paris's 25th Annual le Bal des Débutantes". Vanity Fair.
  54. ^ "Elizabeth Starling Louis, Julia McCaw et Laila Blavatnik". www.journaldesfemmes.fr (in French). Retrieved November 23, 2019.
  55. ^ Clementine, Katherine. " Rich List 2015: Kensington property owner Len Blavatnik top with £13.17 BILLION fortune ", Get West London, May 1, 2015. Accessed May 28, 2015
  56. ^ "The Meteoric Rise of Billionaire Len Blavatnik". Bloomberg.
  57. ^ "Kremlin-linked Billionaire, Netanyahu Friend Donated to Trump's Private Legal Fund". Haaretz. September 25, 2017.
  58. ^ "Blavatnik Internship Program". Council on Foreign Relations. Retrieved October 4, 2019.
  59. ^ "No. 61962". The London Gazette (Supplement). June 17, 2017. p. B2.

External linksEdit