Think you know who owns this mansion? Nyet so fast


EDITOR’S NOTE: This story was originally published in the Palm Beach Post on February 28, 2011.

There’s a new angle to the battle over the Palm Beach mansion that Donald Trump sold to a Russian fertilizer mogul for a record $95 million.

The Russian, Dmitri Rybolovlev, now disavows any ownership of the former Abe Gosman estate, which was snapped up by Trump for $41.4 million in 2004 and then sold to a Rybolovlev entity four years later, for more than double the price.

The flip was believed to be the most expensive sale of a U.S. single-family home at the time, and in June 2008 Rybolovlev confirmed he was behind the buying entity, County Road Property LLC.

“This acquisition is simply an investment in real estate by one of the companies in which I have an interest,” Rybolovlev said through a spokesman for Uralkali, his fertilizer company. Rybolovlev added that he didn’t plan to live in the United States.

But now things are different in the Rybolovlev household, and Dmitri and his estranged wife, Elena, are enmeshed in a messy divorce in Switzerland. Their chief battle is over their fortune, estimated to be between $6 billion to $12 billion.

Among the jewels of the marriage: The 33,000-square-foot oceanfront Palm Beach mansion, at 515 N. County Road.

In 2009, Elena sued Dmitri in Palm Beach County Circuit Court to protect the estate, claiming Dmitri “has a history of secreting and transferring assets in order to avoid his obligations.” Last year, she filed a lis pendens against the property.

Rybolovlev now says he doesn’t actually own the Palm Beach mansion.

“Mr. Rybolovlev has not purchased or managed any real estate in Florida for investment purposes, either directly or indirectly,” according to a motion recently filed in Elena’ case.

That’s news to Trump. “Somebody paid me $100 million,” Trump said coyly.

Dmitri not only is distancing himself from the Palm Beach property. He’s also distancing himself from this entire case, according to court filings.

A Hawaiian process server says Rybolovlev twice tried to evade the service of legal papers during two dramatic encounters in Maui, according to affidavits filed as part of the lawsuit.

During one attempt last November, process server Christopher Williams said he jumped on the hood of Rybolovlev’s speeding black Cadillac Escalade and slapped the envelope, with the documents, onto the windshield.

During another attempt, Rybolovlev was in a white Cadillac Escalade, “which swerved into the oncoming lane in order to avoid me” and almost drove onto the curb, Williams recounts in the affidavit. Nonetheless, Williams said he “lunged at the car and was able to place a copy of the papers on the windshield.”

A New York lawyer representing Elena said he’s not amused by Dmitri’s tactics.

“I don’t know if he’s trying to be cute,” said David Newman, “but the courts in Switzerland say he has an interest, and they have issued an injunction against him transferring or doing anything with the property — whether it’s in his name or County Road Property.”

Rybolovlev lawyer John Christiansen said the property was purchased by a trust and his client “has no interest” in the property.

A hearing has been set for May 13 on Dmitri’s request to be dismissed from Elena’s lawsuit, which also names County Road Property LLC and various trusts.

Alexandra Clough writes about the economy, real estate and the law. Contact her at alexandra_clough@pbpost.com.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Nation & World

2018 Billboard Music Awards: Ed Sheeran, Janet Jackson, Taylor Swift top winner list
2018 Billboard Music Awards: Ed Sheeran, Janet Jackson, Taylor Swift top winner list

Singers, songwriters and recording artists were awarded at the 2018 Billboard Music Awards Sunday in Las Vegas. 
Kelly Clarkson calls for ‘moment of action’ to honor victims of Texas school shooting at Billboard awards
Kelly Clarkson calls for ‘moment of action’ to honor victims of Texas school shooting at Billboard awards

In a moving and somber start to the 2018 Billboard Music Awards, Kelly Clarkson called attention to the Santa Fe High School shooting in Texas that left 10 dead and another 13 wounded. Instead of a moment of silence, however, Clarkson, who said no one should be in fear to go to school called on the crowd, and viewers, to honor the victims with a moment...
Man intentionally drove through restaurant, killed 2, including deputy daughter
Man intentionally drove through restaurant, killed 2, including deputy daughter

Families were sitting down for a comfortable Sunday lunch when chaos ensued at a Gaston County restaurant. Two people died and others were injured when a man drove his car into a Gaston County restaurant just after noon. Police said the driver of the car, Roger Self, was taken into custody. Police said after their initial investigation, they believe...
Veteran heartbroken after her therapy dog is mauled to death
Veteran heartbroken after her therapy dog is mauled to death

Years after fighting for our country in Iraq, Cherice Jackson found herself in another fight – this time for her best friend, her therapy dog Ms. Pooh.  Jackson said two pit bulls mauled Ms. Pooh to death and she couldn’t stop it.  “I spent probably 20, 30 minutes trying to wrestle her from him,” Jackson told Channel...
Deaf, pregnant woman with service animal says she was punched on flight
Deaf, pregnant woman with service animal says she was punched on flight

Video shows a confrontation that erupted after a deaf pregnant woman said a man punched her and her service dog as their Frontier flight was taxiing to a gate at Orlando International Airport. The family of the man said it was all a misunderstanding. Hazel Ramirez admits that her fiancé, Matthew Silva, tackled Timothy Manley in the terminal...
More Stories