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The New New Rich (fragment)


When the oligarchs of the former Soviet Union first burst out beyond their own borders, they were Marxist caricatures of the nouveau riche, purchasing yachts and sports teams, and surrounding themselves with designer-clad supermodels. Fifteen years later, they are exploring how to buy their way into the world of ideas.

One of the most determined is the Ukrainian entrepreneur Victor Pinchuk, whose business empire ranges from pipe manufacturing to TV stations. With a net worth of $3 billion, Pinchuk is no longer content merely to acquire modern art: in 2009, he began a global competition for young artists, run by his art centre in Kiev and conceived as a way of bringing Ukraine into the international cultural mainstream. Pinchuk hosts a regular lunch on the fringes of Davos and has launched his own annual "ideas forum", a gathering devoted to geopolitics which is held, with suitable modesty, in the same Crimean villa where Stalin, Roosevelt and Churchill attended the Yalta Conference. Last September's meeting, where I served as a moderator, included Bill Clinton, International Monetary Fund head Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski and Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexei Kudrin.

Pinchuk's growing international Rolodex illustrates another defining characteristic of today's plutocrats: they are forming a global community, and their ties to one another are increasingly closer than their ties to hoi polloi back home.



Born in Ukraine and raised in a "closet-sized" apartment, Pinchuk founded Interpipe, a steel pipe company in 1990. He is now worth $3.1 billion. Served two terms in the Ukrainian parliament and is married to the daughter of Ukraine's ex-President, Leonid Kuchma. The Victor Pinchuk Foundation is the largest private philanthropic organisation in Ukraine. An art lover, last year he announced a biennial $100,000 prize for artists aged 35 and under.


Source: The Times
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