Ex-wife of Putin’s judo sparring partner loses £8.73m London flat after divorce fight

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Arkady Rotenberg and his ex-wife Natalia Rotenberg  (Champion News)
Arkady Rotenberg and his ex-wife Natalia Rotenberg (Champion News)

The ex-wife of a billionaire friend of Vladimir Putin has lost her £8.73 million London apartment to repossession after failing to pay the mortgage.

Ballet teacher Natalia Rotenberg, 40, has been battling in the UK divorce courts with former partner Arkady Rotenberg, 69, for the last six years over money and the ownership of a £27 million mansion in Surrey.

The couple, who have two children, split in 2013 after eight years of marriage, before Mr Rotenberg was hit with sanctions from the British government over his close ties to Putin and for having “financially benefited from Russian decision makers” after the 2014 annexing of Crimea.

Now, Mrs Rotenberg has been stripped of her luxury apartment with views over Buckingham Palace, after a court in London heard that “no payments at all” have been made towards a £1.3 million loan used to buy the property.

Mr Rotenberg, reportedly a childhood friend and judo sparring partner of Putin, is one of the world’s richest men thanks to his co-ownership with brother Boris of SGM, the largest construction company for gas pipelines and electrical power supply lines in Russia.

He was personally sanctioned by the Government in December 2020, and members of his family including Boris and son Igor were also sanctioned when the invasion of Ukraine began in February this year.

During their marriage, the Rotenbergs’ British base was a mansion in Windlesham, Surrey, which boasts a 42ft swimming pool, games suite, a cinema, catering unit and wine cellar, staff quarters and an underground garage for up to six cars. When the couple split, Mrs Rotenberg, a former rhythmic gymnast, clothing label owner, and head of a children’s school of arts and Russian ballet, was handed the property in a 2019 UK divorce court ruling.

However, the Court of Appeal last year overturned the order for Mr Rotenberg to hand over the home, finding it had not been proved that the billionaire was the true owner. The legal fight over the property is due to be reheard in the future.

In September 2021, Mrs Rotenberg took out a £1.3 million loan to buy an apartment in Kings Gate Walk, Westminster, at a total cost of £8.73 million. However, Judge Adrian Worthington at the Mayor’s and City of London county court has now ordered repossession after hearing she did not make any payments on the mortgage debt which now stands at over £1.6 million.

Lawrence McDonald, representing lender Certain Bridge Ltd, said sanctions had created a “turbulent time in the lives” of the former couple, but pointed out the loan was meant to be “paid back in full by January 20, 2022”.

“No payments have been received,” he told the court. “Mrs Rotenberg was formerly married to a Russian gentleman who was subject to sanctions.

“There is no indication whether that was what caused these difficulties, but it is certainly a turbulent time in their lives.”

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