Getting To Know The Lebedevs
Many of the Russian billionaires we've covered on this site can be a little flashy but The Observer has a great profile of Alexander Lebedev, a restrained Russian billionaire for our new more modest age. Lebedev is a former KGB agent turned publisher. He's in the news this week for seeking to own the London Evening Standard newspaper (his bid was not accepted).
Lebedev was 39th on the Forbes list of top 100 Russian billionaires, with $3.1 billion in assets before the economic freefall. He's known to be a little disdainful of other more profligate Russian spenders. He does not own a yacht and has a deep interest in philanthropy and in using Novaya Gazeta, the liberal Moscow newspaper he part owns with Mikhail Gorbachev to focus on issues like corruption and human rights abuses. Although he is also careful, he shut down another one of his papers last year after it reported on Vladimir Putin's alleged affair with an Olympic gymnast. His fortune comes not from newspapers but from his ownership of the National Reserve Bank.
Lebedev's son, Evgeny, shown at right, is an in-demand bachelor on the London social scene who has dated Spice Girl Geri Haliwell and actress Joely Richardson and is the heir to the newspaper empire. The younger Lebedev has been working with English publisher Jefferson Hack to bring the magazine Dazed and Confused to Russia. Evgeny Lebedev is also the chairman of the Raisa Gorbachev Foundation.