Oligarch or not, Aspen’s new investor has Russian ties

Russian billionaire Vladislav Doronin looks on before a fashion show at Barvikha Luxury Village outside Moscow, Russia, Monday, March 9, 2009. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

Representatives of the Miami-based OKO Group, which was behind the acquisition of nearly an acre at the base of Aspen Mountain for $76.25 million last week, are not yet ready to discuss publicly. the new owner’s vision or plans for the property, when contracted. for sale, or how the deal that rocked the community came to fruition.

They have, however, mounted a public relations front to avoid any speculation, innuendo or suggestion that the leader of the ownership group, Russian-born billionaire Vladislav Doronin, is an oligarch or has ties to Vladimir Putin’s government.

“To call him an oligarch would mean that any Russian-born businessman in the world would be one, which of course is not the case,” said an email to The Aspen Times from a New York-based company that handles public relations for Doronin, which leads the joint venture between developer OKO Group and luxury hotelier Aman Resorts.

As national governments continue to hammer the oligarchs — the British and Canadian governments this week sanctioned Snowmass owner Roman Abramovich for his ties to Putin — Doronin and other Russian-born billionaires have struggled to distance themselves from any recent business relationship with Russia or relationship with Putin.

“The phrase ‘Russian oligarch’ refers to a small group of approximately 35 billionaires who have profited from their association with Putin and his government by being deep insiders in government affairs,” noted a March 4 article on the ‘Poynter Institute. website for journalists, referring to the “Navalny 35”, a list of Kremlin supporters and sympathizers compiled by Alexei Navalny, a poisoning victim and critic of Putin currently imprisoned in Russia.

While Abramovich’s name tops the list, Doronin’s name is not mentioned.

Doronin’s communications team aggressively insisted he was not an oligarch. And following a Feb. 26 event in Manhattan where protesters gathered outside Doronin’s future New York Aman Hotel and questioned his ties to Russia, on March 1 he tweeted his stance on the invasion of Ukraine.

“I denounce Russia’s aggression against Ukraine and fervently wish for peace,” the tweet read. “I was born in the USSR, the Soviet Union, which no longer exists, which included both Russia and Ukraine. I left in 1986 before it was dissolved, so I was never a Russian national. Also, I haven’t done business in Russia for many years.

Doronin’s ties to Russia, however, are indisputable.

He owns a property called Capital Hill Residence outside of Moscow. The 36,000 square foot residence was the only home designed by the late Pritzker Prize winner Zaha Adid. It was completed in 2018 and cost Doronin $140 million, according to media reports.

“In my 25-year career as a real estate developer, I’ve built 71 buildings and 75 million square feet. I developed the equivalent of Wall Street in New York or Canary Wharf in London. None of this compares to the Capital Hill Residence – it’s an architectural marvel and an engineering miracle,” Doronin told The Robb Report in a 2019 article. “Zaha would agree.

Doronin also founded the Moscow-based real estate company Capital Group in 1993. According to the company’s website, Capital Group is one of “the largest Russian development companies specializing in the construction of the most complex and iconic projects in Moscow for 28 years – mixed-use complexes, residential and commercial real estate”.

Doronin, who traded commodities in the 1980s under Marc Rich – the late Swiss financier convicted of criminal dealings and pardoned by President Bill Clinton on his last day in office on January 20, 2001 – sold his stake in Capital Group in 2013, a door said. -word.

“The 57-year-old Russian-born businessman quit the world of commerce and went on to build a real estate empire as the founder of Moscow-based development company Capital Group and as chairman -CEO of OKO Group, a U.S.-based real estate company,” Barron reported. in February 2020. “His portfolio includes 71 buildings and more than 75 million square feet of residential and commercial properties in Europe, Asia and the United States. In 2014, Doronin purchased his beloved brand Aman, becoming president and chief Executive Officer.”

Vladislav Doronin, left, and model Naomi Campbell arrive for the amfAR Cinema Against AIDS Benefit at the Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc, during the 63rd Cannes international film festival, in Cap d’Antibes, southern of France, Thursday, May 20, 2010 (AP Photo/Joel Ryan)

Doronin, who turns 60 in November, was also the subject of tabloids when he and model Naomi Campbell dated from 2008 to 2013. Campbell interviewed Putin in November 2010 about staying in shape, his affinity for women and his love for tigers. Britain’s GQ published the interview in March 2011.

Doronin took the majority stake in Swiss Aman Group, the holding group of Aman Resorts, in early 2014. Doronin founded OKO Group in 2015.

OKO Group’s Miami address was listed on last week’s special warranty deed of sale, which was documented March 4 at the Pitkin County Clerk and Recorder’s office. According to Pete Strecker, the city’s chief financial officer, the city’s real estate transfer tax collections from the sale amounted to $381,250 for the Wheeler Opera House and arts programs and an additional $761,500 for its housing boxes.

The transaction came less than a year after Norway Island LLC – a partnership including Lowe’s Development’s Jim DeFrancia, Jeff Gorsuch and Bryan Peterson – acquired the same land for $10 million from Aspen Skiing Co. in July.

The purchase was the next step in the redevelopment of the Lift One hallway on Aspen Mountain’s West Portal. Voters in Aspen narrowly approved the 81-room Gorsuch Haus hotel, presented by the Norwegian group, in a referendum election in March 2019 by a margin of 1,555 votes in favor to 1,529 votes against.

The property covers 41,268 square feet, according to public records, which equals 0.95 acres. It also comes with the right to build a voter-approved hotel.

“These guys are obviously walking away with a huge profit, there’s no doubt about that,” said Randy Gold, an Aspen real estate appraiser. “They’re being rewarded for getting the rights, that’s the short version, and they’ve spent a lot of time, energy and money getting those rights.”

Los Angeles developers Jason Grosfeld and the Brown brothers are also involved in the project, which won voter approval to build the 107,000 square foot Lift One Lodge with hotel rooms, split units and residences. in full ownership. Additionally, the Aspen Historical Society and Aspen Skiing Co., which plans to replace Elevator 1A, are participating in the undeveloped project, as well as the city, which has committed $4.4 million to help pay for Dean Street improvements. and the relocation of skiers. Cabin Lodge.

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