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Secrets of art world’s biggest loser: How oligarch Dmitry Rybolovlev’s $1B fraud claim ended in ruin

It’s a long way from Perm, Russia — a grim town in the Ural mountains 900 miles east of Moscow once known as the “Gateway to the Gulag” and home to the Soviet Union’s most terrifying labor camp for political prisoners — to Monte Carlo.

In 1987, when Perm 36 camp closed, Dmitry Rybolovlev was a 22-year-old medical student.

Four years later the Soviet Union collapsed and Rybolovlev dumped his career as a cardiologist to corner the potassium fertilizer business in a newly-privatized Russia.

It was a winning move: in 2010 he sold his stake in Uralkali for $6.5 billion.

And he swapped Perm for one of Monaco’s most prestigious addresses, the two-story, $300 million penthouse in the Belle Époque mansion, with views of his friend Prince Albert’s pink palace high in the distance across the harbor.

Until now, Rybovlovev, 57, has been used to winning.

He owns Monaco’s soccer club, its stadium nestled in the heart of the richest square mile in the world, a portfolio of multi-million dollar properties, businesses spanning the planet, a private Boeing 737 and a $250 million yacht, the Anna.

He watches soccer with Monaco’s embattled Prince Albert, who’s been fighting allegations of corruption, and hobnobs with other fans such as former French president Nicolas Sarkozy.

And his daughter, Ekaterina, now 35, who’s married to Uruguayan businessman and politician Juan Sartori, purchased an apartment at 15 Central Park West with $88 million of her father’s money in 2011.

Two years later Ekaterina also bought the fabled Greek island of Skorpios, which was once owned by Greek shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis, Jackie Kennedy’s second husband.

Even his split from Elena, his wife of 23 years in 2008 was called the “divorce of the century.”

Elena, who met Rybolovlev in medical school, accused him of trying to hide his wealth from her by buying up mansions from Hawaii to Greece to Central Park West.

The Rybolovlevs’ life together was detailed in Elena’s 2008 bombshell divorce filing, alleging he cheated on her constantly with women young enough to be his daughters — whom he shared with his friends. Her husband claimed she was aware of his sex life before the divorce.

Elena, who met Rybolovlev in medical school, accused him of trying to hide his wealth from her by buying up mansions from Hawaii to Greece to Central Park West.

One, she revealed was the 62,000 sq-ft. Maison de l’Amitie in Palm Beach, which he bought during the depths of the 2008 recession from Donald Trump — more than double what Trump had paid for it. His wife said he did no due diligence before the purchase.

(Trump’s original purchase of the house is said to have caused him to fall out with Jeffrey Epstein.)

In papers filed in Geneva and Palm Beach, Fla., Elena alleged Ekaterina was manipulated by her father and bribed with lavish gifts to deceive her mother — and eventually suffered a nervous breakdown because of the familial stress.

Rybolovlev, in turn, had Elena arrested in Cyprus where he coincidentally owns a bank, saying she had stolen a $28 million ring.

She later proved he had given it to her and walked away with about $3.5 billion in the divorce.

Rybolovlev didn’t amass his money and power quietly.

As the boss of Uralkali, Rybolovlev was blamed for turning Berezniki, an old mining town in the Urals where his potash was extracted from 1500 feet underground, into what The New York Times called a city “always on watch against being sucked into the earth” because of sinkholes.

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