Back in 1995, long before the Plaza was shuttered for its massive new condo renovation, Masha Tolstoy Sarandinaki (the novelist’s great-granddaughter) and Princesses Martha Kropotkin and Tatiana Galitzine grooved at the hotel’s Russian Nobility Association Spring Ball.
Their countrymen still like the 100-year-old monument to moneyed Central Park style: According to city deeds, Russian gambling magnate Boris Belotserkovsky, a co-owner of Ritzio Entertainment Group, his country’s largest gambling operator, and his son George have paid $5,010,205 for a 13th-floor condo at the Plaza.
Mr. Belotserkovsky has also been described in recent press as the chief of Russia’s largest producer of gambling equipment, called Unicum, plus the vice president of a group called the Russian Gaming Association. “He loved the Plaza,” said his real estate attorney Donald Fleishaker. “He wants a place to stay when he comes to New York. He wants to be a part of the Big Apple.”
He signed the Plaza contract way back in December 2005, when Ritzio was preparing a large IPO on the London Stock Exchange. But President Putin has since cracked down on gambling, submitting bills to banish casinos to remote cities. “It would be the same as attempting to ban alcohol in Russia,” Mr. Belotserkovsky has said.
Earlier this year, Alfiya and Vladimir Stolyarenko paid more than twice Mr. Belotserkovsky’s sum for an apartment two floors higher: $10,184,363 and 46 cents, as The Observer has reported on its Web site. Mr. Stolyarenko, one of Russia’s top bankers, is president and chairman of Evrofinance Mosnarbank.
He’s also close to the Kremlin, according to a report from Radio Free Europe, whereas Mr. Belotserkovsky has publicly disparaged Mr. Putin for those gambling cutbacks. Maybe they’ll be Plaza pals nonetheless.
But the former Russian nickel exec Oleg Baibakov won’t be in the building. He left when a sales broker wouldn’t show the incomplete penthouse. “If you are buying a $30 million apartment,” his daughter told Bloomberg News, “you are entitled to see the view.”