Putin’s old judo partner, 68, wins latest round of battle with his ballet teacher ex, 39, over £27m Surrey mansion complete with tennis courts, swimming pool and its own panic room

  • Arkady Rotenberg, 69, is battling his former wife Natalia Rotenberg, 40
  • Mrs Rotenberg has lost the latest round of a fight over a £27million mansion
  • Judges have ruled the property may not be Mr Rotenberg’s to give to his wife 

A billionaire Russian gas pipe baron who was a judo partner of Vladimir Putin has won the latest round of a battle with his former ballet teacher ex-wife over ownership of a £27 million mansion in Surrey.

Businessman Arkady Rotenberg, 69, and his UK-based former wife Natalia Rotenberg, 40, married in 2005 and divorced in Russia in 2013.

The former couple, who share two children, have been fighting over money in British courts for the last six years.

Mr Rotenberg, reportedly a close confidant and business partner of president Vladimir Putin, has a fortune estimated by Forbes in 2017 at $2.5 billion.

He and his brother Boris Rotenberg co-own the largest construction company for gas pipelines and electrical power supply lines in Russia.

In 2019, a divorce judge in the UK High Court ruled that he should transfer the family mansion at Upper Ribsden, Windlesham, Surrey, to his ex, a former gymnast and ballet teacher turned fashion designer.

Businessman Arkady Rotenberg (pictured), 69, and his UK-based former wife Natalia Rotenberg, 40, married in 2005 and divorced in Russia in 2013

The spectacular 27,000sq ft house, where Mrs Rotenberg currently lives with the couple’s two children, is set in six acres of sculpted grounds in the woods around Sunningdale golf course.

It has a large basement, 42ft swimming pool, games suite, cinema, state-of-the-art catering unit and wine cellar, staff quarters and an underground garage for up to six limousines.

But now three Court of Appeal judges have overturned the order handing her ownership of the mansion, after finding it has not been proved that it is Mr Rotenberg’s to give.

Mrs Rotenberg trained in rhythmic gymnastics and graduated from Gromov School of Music Arts. She later became a ballet teacher, opened her own children’s school of arts and Russian ballet school and launched a clothing label after moving to the UK.

In 2019, a divorce judge in the UK High Court ruled that he should transfer the family mansion at Upper Ribsden, Windlesham, Surrey, to his ex (pictured), a former gymnast and ballet teacher turned fashion designer

During early skirmishes between Mr Rotenberg and his former wife, a divorce judge in the UK ruled that the house (pictured) was held on trust, for the benefit of Mr Rotenberg, by an offshore company called Ravendark Holdings Ltd

Mr Rotenberg trained with Putin several times a week as a judo teacher before progressing to become one of Russia’s richest businessmen after Putin became president. The pair were reportedly childhood friends.

During early skirmishes between Mr Rotenberg and his former wife, a divorce judge in the UK ruled that the house was held on trust, for the benefit of Mr Rotenberg, by an offshore company called Ravendark Holdings Ltd.

Ravendark is not owned by Mr Rotenberg, but was loaned a large sum by one of his companies to fund the purchase of the mansion.

Mr Justice Moor ruled in 2019 that ownership of the house should, on that basis, be transferred to Mrs Rotenberg.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, pictured with Mr Rotenberg as the pair attend judo training at the Yug Sport complex in February 2019 in Sochi, Russia

Mrs Rotenberg (pictured above) began fighting over money in British courts with her former husband five years ago

Now Lord Justice McCombe, Lord Justice Moylan and Lord Justice Newey have reversed that ruling at the Court of Appeal, after finding that the judge did not have the evidence before him to conclude that the mansion was held for Mr Rotenberg on trust by the company.

Mr Justice Moor’s finding that the mansion was held on trust was based on a £34.5m loan being made to Ravendark by the husband’s company, Olpon Investments Ltd, to fund the purchase.

However, the judge had himself found that there had been a ‘legitimate loan agreement’ between the two companies, Lord Justice Moylan said.

‘As a result, whatever other findings he might have made, his conclusion that the property was held on resulting trust for the husband could not stand,’ he ruled.

Despite that fact, lawyers for the wife argued that Mr Justice Moor’s findings were ‘so adverse to the husband…that justice would be served by upholding the judge’s determination as to the beneficial ownership of the property.’

They urged the judges to rule that the mansion is hers by way of a common intention constructive trust instead, because her billionaire ex had promised it would be hers.

But Lord Justice Moylan, despite finding that ‘there is much force’ in that argument, said ‘after substantial reflection, I have come to the conclusion that this course is not properly open to us’.

He added: ‘I do not consider that we are properly and fairly in a position to determine that question…not all of the constituent elements were sufficiently explored either evidentially or legally at the hearing below, in particular in respect of the issue of detrimentx.’

The case will now be remitted for a full rehearing to decide who really owns the house before Britain’s top family judge Sir Andrew McFarlane, at a date yet to be set.

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