For the casual London-courtroom rubbernecker, 2020 has been a doozy of a season. Johnny Depp and Amber Heard’s booze-filled “Disco Bloodbath”; the High Court teaser trailer for Meghan and Harry vs. the World. And now the series grand finale—a high-stakes, big-budget, multi-continent family drama that’s been four long years in the making. They haven’t skimped on the pyrotechnics.
The story begins in 2016, when a High Court judge in London awarded Ms. Tatiana Akhmedova a $600 million settlement in her divorce from Farkhad Akhmedov—a Putin ally and oil-and-gas baron—in what was soon billed as one of the most expensive splits in history. Lawyers for Mr. Akhmedov, however, immediately condemned the ruling—and have since done everything in their power to keep Ms. Akhmedova away from her ex-husband’s assets.
The ensuing international game of cat and mouse has included (but is not limited to): a $500 million super-yacht, once owned by Roman Abramovich; a helicopter, a jet, and a $470,000 Aston Martin; a collection of vintage shotguns; $3.3 million worth of property; a $112 million modern-art collection containing works by Mark Rothko, Andy Warhol, and Damien Hirst; and the contents of several offshore bank accounts spanning Panama, Cyprus, and the Isle of Man.
At one point, Akhmedov tried to secure his beloved boat via Dubai’s Sharia courts––which would be gentler on him due to his apparent Muslim roots, and potentially harsher on his unfaithful Christian wife. (London, by contrast, has become known as the divorce capital of the world, thanks to its largesse toward ex-wives.) He also enlisted the help of Interpol Russia, which soon announced they were looking into the “misappropriation” of Akhmedov’s assets on a “large scale,” following “fraud” on the part of his ex-wife. And now Ms. Akhmedova claims that her ex-husband has been working in cahoots with their son, 27-year-old Temur Akhmedov, in a plot to conceal hundreds of millions in assets. This is the development on which the latest court case hinges.
At one point, Akhmedov tried to secure his beloved boat via Dubai’s Sharia courts—which would be gentler on him due to his apparent Muslim roots, and potentially harsher on his unfaithful Christian wife.
Ms. Akhmedova, who believes Temur is acting “as his father’s lieutenant” in the asset war, recently won a court order to have the apartment (and its connected wine cellar) raided to search for evidence, and even convinced a judge to order Google to hand over a cache of his personal e-mails. (The raid, which is said to have taken place over 10 hours, saw officers rip up floorboards after consulting detailed internal maps of the building, according to The Times of London.) Ahead of the trial, which began in London last week, Temur’s global assets were frozen, and a weekly spending limit of $4,000 was imposed on his bank accounts. “Now maybe for the average person that seems like a fucking crazy amount,” he told The Guardian, “but in reality it’s different.”
No series finale, however, is complete without a plot twist. Temur Akhmedov had originally promised the courts that he would travel from Dubai to London in order to attend the trial. But on Wednesday of last week, in a whirl of fear and alleged harassment, it emerged that he had fled to Russia instead. “I got stressed, [and] I got scared. People are using surveillance teams … harassing me. I’m drinking a lot,” Temur told the court on a video call.
“Our mother raised us very well, she was a good mother,” he said to The Guardian. “But this claim is because she doesn’t like me because I didn’t stick on her side. I couldn’t imagine in a million years going against my own blood. She is just out for revenge. How can you give birth to your kids and then fight against them in court?”
Temur added that he will “never be reconciled” with his mother, due to “her outrageous, revengeful behaviour.” Speaking to the court, the multi-millionaire claimed he couldn’t afford to pay for anywhere to stay in London, and so had decamped to his sister’s home in Russia instead. His One Hyde Park apartment was being used as collateral on a loan, he said, to finance his legal fees. “But I’m not going to call my mum [and ask] can I live with you,” he told the court.
Temur was ordered by the judge to return to London at once. On Monday he finally reappeared in court––where he immediately found himself under siege. It was soon revealed that he had been given the London flat when he was just 19, had been bought a $120,000 Mercedes upon passing his driving test at 17, and had lost $50 million day-trading while a student at the London School of Economics. Alan Gourgey, Q.C., representing Ms. Akhmedova, accused the city trader of “being a compulsive liar … who is full of humbug.” In court on Tuesday, Ms. Akhmedova blamed her ex-husband for the entanglement. “I wouldn’t say that a loving father would get his son involved in divorce proceedings,” she said, before describing her discussions with Temur as “toxic.” She then claimed she “had no choice” but to sue her son.
A final point on that yacht. Luna, the family’s 337-foot, 52-crew exhibition vessel, has been impounded in Port Rashid in Dubai since 2018, under a ruling from U.K. courts. She has two helipads, a deployable submarine, bulletproof windows, bombproof doors, an anti-drone device, infrared-imaging cameras, a high-decibel sonic cannon, and a missile-detection system. At this moment in time, Temur might be wishing he still had the keys.
Joseph Bullmore is a Writer at Large for AIR MAIL