Investment, Music, Media
Milk Studios in Los Angeles was the venue for Blavatnik's annual Grammy party in February where guests included Ed Sheeran and Katy Perry and the assembled glitterati were serenaded by Rita Ora. The Ukraine-born investor's pulling power comes from his ownership of Warner Music Group, which he acquired in 2011.
Blavatnik, 59, who arrived in America from Russia with his family in 1978, is now a US and British citizen who has a home in Kensington Palace Gardens, bought in 2004 for £41m. The New Yorker magazine observed that it “makes the nearby Russian embassy look like a humble dacha".
Blavatnik, as one of the leaders of the British music industry via Warner, had something to celebrate in LA. After nearly two decades of hand-wringing, live music is pulling in sell-out crowds, streaming is starting to pay and artists are landing lucrative endorsement deals. Total music sales in 2016 rose 4.6% to £1.1bn. Warner, of course, is but a small part of the Blavatnik empire.
After taking his master’s degree at Columbia University, in 1986 he founded Access Industries, a Manhattan-based investment firm. He later worked with other eastern European tycoons to acquire stakes in selected newly privatised companies in the aluminium trade in the old Soviet Union. He also has investments in the chemical industry, including the huge LyondellBasell – the world's largest producer of polypropylene – whose shares have had a good run, meaning Blavatnik's stake is now valued at £6bn. There are other stakes in quoted companies worth £520m, while his private holdings such as Warner and commercial property add a further £6.4bn.
His base is in London, though he spends much of his time in New York where he paid $27.5m for a Fifth Avenue apartment in 2006. He has hotels in the south of France, Miami and The Bahamas as well as a fashion label. With a handy £2.6bn cash pile, plus other private assets on top, Blavatnik is now easily worth the £15.982bn, a rise of more than £4bn on our valuation last year. It’s a year that just about deserved a good LA bash.