In St. Barths, Roman Abramovich renovated a football stadium and helped rebuild after a hurricane. As sanctions pile up on the Russian oligarch, the islanders say ‘they don’t want this to end’.

Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich watches from the stands during the Barclays Premier League match between Chelsea and Manchester City at Stamford Bridge

Roman Abramovich.Paul Gilham/Getty Images

  • Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich owns a $90 million mansion on the Caribbean island of St. Barthelemy.

  • Known as St. Barts, the island’s economy relies on tourism from ultra-wealthy visitors like Abramovich.

  • Since facing UK and EU sanctions, locals have defended Abramovich, calling him a “beautiful person”.

As he faces mounting sanctions, Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich’s reputation is defended by unlikely supporters: the residents of the Caribbean island of St. Barthelemy.

“For more than a decade, locals and staff have become extremely wealthy themselves by doing favors for” Abramovich and other ultra-wealthy patrons, an unnamed St. Barths resident told Forbes. “They don’t want it to end.”

Known as St. Barths, the island’s economy relies on tourist funds from ultra-wealthy visitors like Abramovich, who has owned a $90 million mansion on the island since 2009. While he does in the face of mounting UK and EU sanctions, including more than $7 billion in assets, islanders described him as “a beautiful person” and defended his presence on the island as a positive element.

Abramovich, once called Russia’s most charitable billionaire, has a history of making large donations, including to the Israel Holocaust Museum and a nanotechnology research center at Tel Aviv University.

In St. Barths, he paid $4 million to rebuild the local soccer stadium in 2010, paid for renovations after a hurricane in 2017, and funded repairs to a saltwater pond important to the local ecosystem. reported Forbes.

Patrice Abderraham, a private chef who has worked for the oligarch on several occasions, told Forbes he thinks France and the EU were misguided in sanctioning Abramovich: ‘They put everyone in the same basket’ , did he declare. “I hope everything goes well for him.”

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