In 1990, Dmitry Rybolovlev started a medical business project along with his father, Evgeny. He formed a company called Magnetics, and offered alternative medical treatment using magnetic fields developed by his father. However, due to the then chaotic economic scenario of the Soviet Union, his clients paid him with products rather than cash. Dmitry then had to find buyers for these products, and to his surprise, he found that the resale of the products yielded higher profits than his alternative medicine business. In fact, during this period, he earned his first million dollars!
In 1992, he opened an investment company, and bought shares of different companies. In 1994, he founded a bank, and acquired shareholdings of many Perm-based industrial enterprises, and joined their boards. In 1995, he sold most of his shareholdings in other companies, and focused on developing the potash industry, particularly the company Uralkali, and became its chairman.
Over the ensuing years he consolidated his controlling interest in the company and eventually established Uralkali as a major global company. From 2000 to 2007, labor productivity at Uralkali grew by 2.5 times.
In 2005, Uralkali and Belarusian potash producer Belaruskali merged their trade flows as a single trader—Belarusian Potash Company (BPC), and Dmitry became its chief executive. With a fivefold increase in potash prices over the next three years, the creation of BPC gave significant profits to Uralkali. As a result, in 2007, Uralkali’s IPO on the London Stock Exchange became very successful with the rising global prices of potash.
In June 2010, he sold 53% shareholding in Uralkali to a group of Russian investors. According to unofficial sources, it was sold at US$5.3 billion. In December, Uralkali bought potash producer Silvinit, and became one of the world's largest potash producers. In April 2011, he sold the rest of his Uralkali shares to a company owned by Alexander Nesis.
In December 2011, a trust on behalf of his daughter, Ekaterina, bought 66% stake in AS Monaco FC, the Monegasque association football club, which played in the French football league. Dmitry was appointed president of the club.
In 2017, Monaco was described as one of the best clubs in Europe. In fact, Étienne Franzi, AS Monaco's former president, and DNCG, the French football authority, both believed that the club had progressed after Dmitry’s arrival. In May 2013, Monaco had been promoted to Ligue 1 after it gained a promotion. Subsequently, under his patronage, Monaco became one of the most prestigious football clubs, spending £146 million on players.
During his student years, Dmitry Rybolovlev married his fellow student Elena in 1987, and their first daughter Ekaterina was born in 1989. Their second daughter Anna was born in 2001. Ekaterina is currently a well-known socialite. She hit the headlines, when at the age of 22, she bought a New York City apartment for $88 million. In 2013, she bought Skorpios, the Greek island that belonged to the successors of Aristotle Onassis.
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During the 1990s, when Soviet Union was going through a difficult time, he was concerned about the safety of his family, and moved them to Switzerland, while he stayed back in Russia to run his business.
In September 1995, he was indicted and arrested for the contract killing of Evgeny Panteleymonov, the Director of Neftekhimik, a company partly owned by Dmitry. He was, however, set free after 11 months. In 1997, he was acquitted by the courts of law at three levels, including the Presidium of the Supreme Court.
In December 2008, Elena filed for divorce, stating in her divorce petition the "serial infidelity" of her husband, “who shared his young conquests with his friends, and other businessmen” on his private yacht. She also sought protection from Dmitry from the Geneva State prosecutor.
In May 2014, the high-profile divorce case made headlines when a Geneva court ordered Dmitry to pay $4.8 billion to his ex-wife. However, in June 2015, after a successful appeal, the Geneva court reversed the earlier decision, and ruled that the settlement be reduced to 564 million Swiss francs. Eventually, in October 2015, Dmitry and Elena announced that they have reached a settlement amicably, and all legal actions in relation to the case would cease.
Trusts in the name of his daughter Ekaterina have bought several significant properties around the world since 2008. The trusts have bought property in Florida, Hawaii, New York City, Monaco, and two islands in Greece. Dmitry also owns an estate in Saint-Tropez on the Cote d'Azur in the south of France, houses in Gstaad, Switzerland, and property in Geneva and Paris with his ex-wife.
In December 2016, the Football Leaks scandal revealed that Dmitry and his football agent Jorge Mendes had illegally bought players’ shares. Using a Cyprus-based offshore investment fund, Browsefish Limited, Dmitry illegally manipulated the price of his own players through third-party ownerships.
In June 2012, when Dmitry was still the owner of Uralkali, a Russian environmental NGO, Green Patrol, listed the company as one of the top 100 polluters in Russia. Uralkali failed to disclose a complete list of harmful elements that it routinely dumped into the river Kama.
Also a philanthropist, he supported the re-building of the Oranienbaum palace in St. Petersburg and the restoration of the Zachatievsky Monastery in Moscow. He donated €17.5 million for the re-building of the Cathedral of Nativity of Theotokos in Moscow. He also helped financially in the restoration of the Cathedral of Exaltation of the Cross recreated in Belogorsk Saint Nicolas Monastery. He supported the construction of the Russian Orthodox Church of St. Nicholas in Limassol as well.
He is also involved with Les Arts Gstaad, a cultural center dedicated to music, arts and literature in the Swiss town Gstaad. His art collection includes paintings by Paul Gauguin, Auguste Rodin, Amedeo Modigliani, Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, and Mark Rothko. He also owned Salvator Mundi by Leonardo da Vinci, but sold it for $450 million on November 15, 2017.