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High-asset property dispute features Florida, New York real estate

A near textbook case for examining the interplay of factors at work in a divorce featuring substantial and complex property division is currently emerging in a New York court. The case, which has a Florida nexus, involves Dmitry Rybolovlev -- one of the richest men in the world, with an estimated net worth of about $9 billion -- and his estranged wife, Elena.

Elena says that the tycoon is unlawfully shielding marital property to which she has a legal claim, and that she wants her "fair share" of the assets.

That property is varied and expensive, and includes a Palm Beach home that Rybolovlev purchased from Donald Trump for nearly $100 million. Other holdings include a nearly $300 million ownership stake in the Bank of Cyprus, majority ownership of a professional soccer club in France, and an $88 million Manhattan penthouse that Rybolovlev bought from ex-Citigroup chief Sanford Weill.

Elena's lawsuit alleges that her spouse is engaging in complex financial maneuvering that is essentially draining marital assets by putting them beyond her reach through vehicles such as trusts and limited liability companies that Rybolovlev is using to purchase properties.

Elena Rybolovleva is asking a state court in Manhattan to demand a number of remedial measures on her behalf in her high-asset property division claim. Among other things, she seeks a constructive trust over the penthouse, which, at nearly $90 million, has been described as the priciest apartment ever in Manhattan, The property, which Rybolovlev purchased just last month, is nearly 7,000 square feet.

Rybolovleva has also filed a lawsuit in Florida seeking a constructive trust over the Palm Beach property.

Source: Reuters, "Russian tycoon sued by wife over Weill condo," March 14, 2012

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