Oligarch Roman Abramovich’s $50 Million Mansion in Colorado Could Become a Sanctions Target
A Rocky Mountain mansion owned by Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich would likely be among the first assets frozen by the US government if sanctioned by the White House in response to the war in Ukraine, lawyers and real estate executives say.
Among Abramovich’s many global real estate trophies is a 14,000 square foot modern mega-home on 200 acres in Snowmass, Colorado, just outside of Aspen. The Russian billionaire, whose fleet of yachts, football team and giant homes in London, France and St. Barths have given him great notoriety in the West, bought the property in 2008 for 36.5 millions of dollars. Local brokers say the property would likely sell for well over $50 million given the surge in prices, making it the second most expensive home ever sold in the Aspen area.
“This is an incredible and very rare property,” said Riley Warwick, co-founder of the Aspen-based brokerage team Saslove & Warwick at Douglas Elliman Real Estate. “A lot of my clients have asked me about this.”
Abramovich also owns a 5,500 square foot cabin-style home in Snowmass Village, which he purchased in 2008 for $11.8 million, according to local property records. The property, just down the road from his largest home, is likely used as a guest house, caretaker’s cottage or ski house, as it sits next to the slopes, according to local brokers.
Experts say the properties are prime targets for an asset freeze if Abramovich is sanctioned. Unlike most oligarch-owned real estate in the United States, the Snowmass properties were both purchased and remain in Abramovich’s name, according to local property records. The government can more easily and quickly seize assets that are under the official ownership of a sanctioned person, as they do not have to go through legal procedures to determine ownership.
Most US real estate owned by Russian billionaires and oligarchs is held by anonymous front companies or limited liability companies to hide their true ownership. Many oligarchs have also transferred their US properties in recent years to relatives or associates. Oleg Deripaska transferred his real estate in the United States, including two townhouses in Manhattan and a house in Washington, DC, to relatives. Abramovich transferred ownership of three Manhattan townhouses to his ex-wife Dasha Zhukova in 2018.
Abramovich has been sanctioned in the UK and Canada, but not in the European Union or the United States. The White House is currently considering whether to include Abramovich in its next round of sanctions, according to people familiar with the discussions.
Abramovich’s spokesperson could not be reached for comment. Denver attorney Brad Schacht, who represented Abramovich in a lawsuit against Comcast Cable stemming from a fiber optic project on the property, did not respond to a request for comment.
The threat of a Justice Department seizure has already sparked much speculation and intrigue in Aspen, a small town with outsized wealth and towering homes. Wal-Mart heiress Ann Walton Kroenke, L Brands founder Leslie Wexner, food and beverage moguls Stuart and Linda Resnick own homes there, along with parents of Jeff Bezos and media mogul Byron Allen. Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell are longtime Aspenites, and the Kardashians, Kate Hudson and Kevin Hart are part of the parade of regular Hollywood visitors.
Locals say Abramovich used to have greater notoriety in town, throwing a New Year’s Eve party in 2008 with the Pussycat Dolls. He has also donated to local charities, with his name featured prominently as a donor on the Chabad side of Aspen. Local property tax records show he was recently charged $68,000 in property taxes for the large house and $29,000 for the smaller property.
For the past decade, however, Abramovich has stayed out of the local spotlight. Local business owners and residents say he rarely, if ever, visits. The property is ideal for privacy, surrounded by 200 acres at the end of a narrow, secluded mountain road with only one other home. Abramovich could easily make the 15-minute trip from his private jet and stay in his home without any public scrutiny, locals say.
“This home is very private and remote,” said realtor Warwick. “He could easily walk in and out without anyone noticing.”
The house is well known in architectural circles and was designed by New York-based Voorsanger Architects. Perched nearly 300 meters above the village of Snowmass, it rises like a giant wedge of glass along Wildcat Ridge. Its steel bent sheet roof, which resembles a giant wing, was designed for heavy snow loads and overhangs 40 feet over the driveway.
Inside, the home is clad in sleek black walnut with floor-to-ceiling windows offering spectacular views of Capitol Peak, Mount Daly, the Roaring Fork Valley, and Aspen. A 12 foot high wall of moss and rock divides the east and west wings. Brokers say Abramovich has added millions of dollars in improvements to the home, including underground space.
If Abramovich is sanctioned, the US Justice Department’s new KleptoCapture task force would likely be able to freeze the property, but not seize or take possession of it. Sanctions experts say the only way the government can take the title is if it proves Abramovich committed an American crime.
Meanwhile, wealthy potential buyers are already circling. Like many ultra-wealthy cities after the pandemic, Aspen is running out of luxury homes for sale, with many more buyers than sellers. The supply of single-family homes in Aspen is down 60% from a year ago, according to Douglas Elliman Real Estate. The average selling price of a home in Aspen is now a record $13 million.
“A lot of my clients ask what the status of the house is and if it’s been frozen,” Warwick said. “There was no information.”
Warwick said brokers hungry for listings also likely reached out to Abramovich to get him to sell.
“He’s not the easiest guy to reach right now,” he said. “But I wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of brokers tried.”