Dmitry Zelenov, the late Russian real estate baron who was once one of the youngest billionaires in all of Russia before much of his fortune imploded during the late-2000s financial collapse, is one of a disturbing number of Russian oligarchs to have met mysterious ends in recent years. In December of last year, Zelenov reportedly took ill at a dinner party somewhere in the French Riviera, then fell over a railing and hit his head, eventually dying of his injuries. Now, Forbes reports that since Zelenov died without leaving a will, his family is feuding over how his assets will be distributed.
Zelenov was just 50 years old, but it's still unusual for someone as wealthy as he was (even if he was probably no longer a billionaire) to not leave a will. And it's created a messy situation with his surviving family members, to say the least. Zelenov's widow, Natalia Dvoryanynova along with one of their sons Michael Zelenov, have reportedly filed suit against Zelenov's parents and his adult daughter/financial advisor for allegedly cutting off access to Zelenov's largest assets. They say the locks have been changed on their home in Moscow and that more than 24 pieces of Zelenov's car collection, which includes four Mercedes, two Bentleys, and one Rolls Royce, have been taken.
The cars alone are worth seven figures, and the Dvoryanynova suit goes onto claim that she and Michael have also been cut off from sources of income, such as upscale rental properties that Zelenov owned in Courchevel, France and Alpine, New Jersey.
Zelenov's lack of a will and the fact that his assets were held not in trust but in a complex network of LLCs and other financial entities (as well as his status as permanent resident of the country of Cyprus for tax purposes) mean that his full fortune may never be sorted out. As the lawsuit puts it:
"Absent discovery into… bank records, personal financial statements, wire information and other economic forensic/historical records, the breadth of Zelenov's holdings will [likely] never be brought to light."
Zelenov's parents have until February 16th to respond to the suit. Then, the battle over the late oligarch's fortune will really begin.