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Orphan to Billionaire: How Roman Abramovich Turned His Life Around

Roman Abramovich is a Russian-Israeli billionaire known for being the 10th richest man in Russia and the 113th richest in the world. As the owner of Chelsea FC, Millhouse Capital, and Evraz, he has an estimated net worth of $13.6 billion. Aside from his success in his career, Abramovich is also credited for his philanthropic efforts, which include donations to charities and towards building hospitals and infrastructure in the impoverished area of Chukotka. Russian President Vladimir Putin has recognized this by awarding him the Order of Honor for contribution to the region’s development.

Without a doubt, Abramovich has attained much success at the young age of 54. However, not many are familiar with how he managed to turn his life around from being an orphan to the billionaire he is today.

Early Beginnings

Abramovich was born in Saratov in October 1966 but was orphaned when his mother died when he was 18 months old, and his father died in an accident when he was four years old. He was raised by his relatives and spent most of his early years in Komi Republic. As a result, he quickly learned the value of money and carried this through his school life.

While studying in Ukhta’s technical college, Abramovich began selling used tires and auto parts to earn money, and later enlisted in the army for his compulsory service in 1974.

Entrepreneurial Roots


While he was in the army, Abramovich quickly found that the military path was not meant for him, so he used his entrepreneurial skills to sell gasoline on the side. Doing this allowed him to earn money to later build his first start-up called Comfort Co-op, which sold imported plastic toys.

Feeling like he could do and earn more, he later ventured into contraband, investing the money that he received as a wedding present to grow his stock with prohibited items. His success in this venture allowed him to diversify into other businesses like bodyguard recruitment, oil products, pig farms, and many others.

When Soviet Premier Gorbachev loosened the privatization regulations in the Union due to the prestroika reforms, Abramovich began to grow his profits even further. He was quickly turning into a big name with many connections. He was particularly well-affiliated with Boris Berezovsky, who ran a car leadership and was part of the inner circle of then-president Boris Yeltsin.

When the Soviet Union’s assets were carved up, Abramovich set himself up towards earning his first billion. He and Berezovsky were able to acquire the large oil company Sibneft for merely $100 million, a huge discount from its market value of $600 million. This venture served as the foundation for much of the wealth he accumulated as he was able to later sell his Sibneft stakes for £1.8 billion.

Roman Abramovich’s story illustrates how he turned his life around from being orphaned to becoming one of the richest men in the world.

Abramovich Today

Abramovich became the governor of Chukotka from 2000 to 2008 while continuing to amass his fortune through his business ventures. He acquired the Chelsea Football Club in 2003, and this helped him expand his business empire further. He also owns a fleet of luxury yachts, a private Boeing aircraft, and has set up a charity named the Pole of Hope.


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