Roll out the trophy wives: Tycoons and their much younger girlfriends turn out for Roman Abramovich’s £5million ‘little party’
By Barbara Mcmahon by Mail Online
Roman Abramovich’s annual New Year’s Eve party in St Barts is one of the biggest showbiz events of the year. But looking at the guestlist this year, the invitation could have easily read ‘bring your own trophy wife/girlfriend’ given the age gaps on show. While the Russian oligarch, 45, was hosting the party with his girlfriend Dasha Zhukova, 30, a host of celebrity men arrived on the arms of their much younger partners.
Among them was media tycoon Rupert Murdoch, 80, and wife Wendi, 43; music mogul Russell Simmons, 54, and actress girlfriend Melissa George, 35; film producer Harvey Weinstein, 59, and fashion designer wife Georgina Champman,35; and George Lucas, 67, and his partner Mellody Hobson, 42.
On Saturday night, the Russian oligarch opened his French Caribbean paradise, the 70-acre Gouverneur Bay Estate, to 400 guests for a New Year’s Eve party.
On the guest list: Australian actress Melissa George and her music producer boyfriend Russell Simmons were invited to Roman Abramovich’s New Year’s Eve party, along with Martha Stewart
The owner of Chelsea FC bought the property for £59 million in 2009, and has been enjoying the Christmas holiday there with Dasha, with whom he has a two-year-old son, Aaron.
He and Dasha took off to St Barts not long after Abramovich had reportedly paid £90 million for a 15-bedroom house in London’s Kensington Palace Gardens that was owned by the Russian government during the Cold War.
This was the third New Year’s Eve party he has hosted on St Barts and perhaps the most extravagant – a conservative estimate of the bill is £5million.
One of the many advantages of St Barts as a party venue is that it’s incredibly difficult and expensive to get to, which minimises the chances of gatecrashers.
There is one small airport – a tiny strip just 2,200ft long – that can accommodate only small prop planes or private jets.
It isn’t clear if Abramovich footed the bill for his guests’ air fare – though, since he’s worth an estimated £8 billion, he could certainly afford to – but he did provide accommodation for most.
Many stayed on Abramovich’s super-yacht, Eclipse, which has been a dominating feature – some might say eyesore – of the pretty harbour of Gustavia over the past few weeks.
At 536ft long, it is the world’s largest private yacht. It has two helicopter pads, two swimming pools, a submarine for underwater adventures and guest accommodation for up to 20.
Eighty members of staff, wearing discreet tan uniforms, operate the craft.
Another of Abramovich’s yachts is the 377ft Luna, which has a crew of 40, is also in Gustavia. A number of revellers have been staying there.
The guest list included Martha Stewart, Australian actress Melissa George and her music producer boyfriend Russell Simmons and Star Wars creator George Lucas.
And a clue as to who else may have been invited could be found by watching those strolling around the harbour, boutiques and jewellery stores in the past week.
Among those seen on St Barts in the run-up to the party were fashion designer Marc Jacobs, rock star Jon Bon Jovi, Jimmy Choo supremo Tamara Mellon, and Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen.
As Abramovich likes to surround himself with beautiful, rich and famous people; it is highly likely all of these names were invited. The President of St Barts, Bruno Magras, was also invited.
Yet it’s possible Abramovich did not personally know all of the 400 or so guests. According to a local St Barts resident, it’s ‘a friend of a friend of a friend thing’, the criteria being that you receive an invitation if you mix in the right circles.
In his way, you might say, Abramovich is a bit of a Hyacinth Bucket figure — a terrible snob obsessed with appearances and the price of everything.
Where are your shoes? Star Wars creator George Lucas dressed in jeans and trainers for the party while his girlfriend Mellody Hobson went bare-foot
Looking white hot: The 35-year-old looked gorgeous in this plunging white maxi dress, while Martha opted for a white top and a sparkly gold skirt
According to sources in St Barts, the dress code for the party was ‘island chic’. That means laid-back and languid, but terrifyingly expensive. Guests looking for an outfit might have popped into Calypso, a tiny boutique in town, which is a favourite with Dasha Zhukova.
Designers on the rails include Alaia, Balmain, Givenchy, Missoni, Alexander McQueen, Marc Jacobs, Stella McCartney, Alexander Wang and Isabel Marant, with price tags running into thousands of dollars.
Anyone looking for some gems to accessorise their outfit might have found something among myriad jewellery shops, including Cartier, Di Grisogno, Bulgari and Chopard.
The party did not get going until 10pm, so many guests dined in their hotels or aboard their yachts before making their way to Abramovich’s estate. Those staying on yachts in the harbour were ferried to shore in tenders. Glamorous young women stepped on the quay barefoot, sheltered by umbrellas from tropical downpours, before strapping on their Christian Louboutins or Jimmy Choos.
They were then driven up to the estate, which spreads out over a lushly landscaped hillside dotted with individual Balinese-style villas.
Once they had passed through a wall of security, the guests were led a long down-lighted pathways to a giant marquee, where waiters circulated with platters of exquisite canapés.
Abramovich’s staff had spent months preparing for the party, to ensure everything was just right.
The menu was put together by local restaurant owner Xavier Pinet, who catered the party last year, and chef Thomas Chiarelli, who runs a top restaurant on the island, K’Fe Massai.
Dishes on offer included pelmeni — Russian dumplings of thin, unleavened dough that are similar to ravioli — filled with locally caught mahi-mahi; pirozhki — little baked pies stuffed with ground beef, cabbage and mushrooms — and blinis aladia — pancakes topped with salmon in a sauce flavoured with vodka and lemon zest.
Not very good sailing attire: Martha hands her shoes to the captain before hopping on a boat to get to the party
Also served were blinis with farmed caviar from Aquitaine, favoured by Mr Chiarelli because Iranian and Russian caviar is hard to procure in large quantities.
Food stations were also set up offering San Daniele prosciutto, salami and cooked meats. Locally caught seafood — tuna, lobster, langoustines and mahi-mahi — was served sushi-style.
Caribbean fruit such as passion fruit, melon and pineapple were available as well as imported strawberries and raspberries.
Guests didn’t go thirsty either — rivers of chilled vodka were available for Russian-style toasts as well as crates of Cristal, Ruinart and Louis Roederer champagne.
While Abramovich’s celebrations may seem somewhat extravagant, dare we say even tasteless in these straitened times, the locals appear to be unfazed.
The residents of French-owned St Barts are accustomed to millionaires and billionaires flaunting their wealth on their eight square miles of tropical perfection.
‘It’s a little party once a year,’ a lifelong resident said with an insouciant Gallic shrug.
For entertainment, Abramovich likes to book a big-name act or two. In 2009, he flew in Prince, Beyoncé and Gwen Stefani; last year, it was The Black Eyed Peas. This year, U.S. rockers The Red Hot Chili Peppers, who have sold 70 million albums. entertained the guests.
The party went on through the night, providing Abramovich with welcome distraction from his problems back in Britain.
He is embroiled in a High Court action with former associate Boris Berezovsky, who is suing him for £3.6 billion. Mr Berezovsky claims he ‘intimidated’ him into selling shares in a Russian oil company for £800 million, allegedly a fraction of their worth.
But for Roman Abramovich, hosting his party in paradise, surrounded by the beautiful set, all that must have seemed far away.