The crazy world of the flashiest couple in the UK

Andrey Melnichenko superyacht

Andrey Melnichenko and his wife Aleksandra made headlines last week when they sailed their £225 million super yacht down the Thames - under Tower Bridge, and moored alongside the HMS Belfast. For Londoners it was a sight to behold, for the Melnichenkos it was nothing special - because this is just what their life is like.

Andrey is apparently worth £8.5 billion - after making his fortune in unglamorous industries like coal and fertilisers. He's only the 139th richest person in the world - according to Forbes - but he stands out as a man who isn't afraid to flash the cash.

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The Yacht, designed by Philip Starck, may be 380 feet long and feature a swimming pool with a glass floor, and enormous master suite with a revolving bed, but it's not even the couple's only yacht.

They also have a £313 million sailing yacht - again designed by Starck - which includes the largest piece of curved glass ever made. The enormous masts and sails are record-breaking, and the three sails between them would roughly cover the size of a football field.

The yachts are home to the kind of opulent luxuries you would expect. They also house Melnichenko's collection of Impressionist art - including paintings by Claude Monet. Other masterpieces hang in the couple's numerous properties.

The property portfolio

According to Tatler, Melnichenko was one of the first Oligarchs to move to London, when he bought a flat on Berkley Square for £2.9 million in 2002. He also owns Harewood Estate in Ascot, Berkshire - which is said to be worth at least £24 million. It features not just a mansion, but 35 acres of land, a spa and swimming pool complex, and separate staff accommodation.

He also owns a villa in Antibes, known as Villa Altair. The couple was married there in a ceremony that was said to have cost £3 million - and featured performances by Christina Aguilera, Julio Iglesias and Whitney Houston.

According to the Daily Mail, they also have a number of investment properties in Belgrade, a home just outside Moscow, and a £9 million apartment overlooking Central Park in New York - covering 2,800 square feet and offering a view of the park from every room.

The couple get around the UK in their £200,000 Bentley, but have a private jet for more far-flung travel. A bog standard version of this jet would cost £42 million, but this couple is anything but bog standard, so it is kitted out in style.

They dress to impress too. Former model Aleksandra says she usually dresses down, but when she dresses up, she does it in style. She has a wardrobe accessed by fingerprint scan and stuffed with designer clothes, including Givenchy and Versace. On her 30th birthday, Harpers Bazaar said she wore a Dior by John Galliano gown that weighed more than 80 pounds.


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The richest self-made Brits
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The richest self-made Brits

The Monaco-based billionaire is said to be worth more than £4.2bn, with Topshop and Topman among the country's most successful brands. His first job, aged 12, was working for a shoe importer. He set up his first business at 15 with a £20,000 loan, on-selling imported jeans from the Far East to London-based retailers.

Branson's first successful business venture came in 1976 when he set up Student magazine aged just 16. In 1970, he founded a mail-order record retailer and within a year had opened his first shop on London's Oxford Street – Virgin Records. His fortune is estimated at £3.085 billion, according to the Sunday Times rich list.

The inventor gave his name to the household vacuum cleaner that would make him a fortune of £1.45 billion. James Dyson first reinvented the vacuum cleaner with the launch of his dual cyclone bagless 'G-Force' cleaner in 1983, followed more recently by the hand dryer and the fan. In 1997, Dyson was awarded the Prince Phillip Designers Prize, and elected a Fellow of The Royal Academy of Engineering in 2005.

Founder of Specsavers, Bristol-born Dame Mary Perkins is Britain's first female self-made billionaire, reportedly worth £1.15 billion. The 67-year-old and her husband Douglas, 68, founded the eye-care company in 1984 and they can now boast more than 900 stores across Britain. Perkins was made a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 2007 as recognition for her work.

Recently retired Beckham is the highest earner in British sport, according to the Sunday Times Sport Rich List. 'Brand Beckham' that has seen the 38-year-old amass a fortune of £165 million from endorsement deals and salary payments from his company, Footwork Productions, over the last decade. But Beckham is still some way off the richest sportsman in the world - golfer Tiger Woods, who is worth a staggering £570m.

Yorkshire Tory peer Lord Kirkham entered the billionaire league in 2010 when he sold his furniture company, DFS, for a reported £500m. In 41 years, Kirkham grew the brand, which started on the outskirts of Doncaster, to 79 stores, three factories and more than 2,600 staff. He received a Knighthood in 1995, a Peerage in 1999 and a CVO in 2005. He now owns a large share in Iceland supermarkets and is worth a reported £1.1billion.

The former Beatle takes the top spot in the Sunday Times Rich List of musical millionaires, sharing a £680 million fortune with his wife Nancy Shevell. McCartney has topped the list of wealthy musicians every year since it was formed 1989 when his fortune was estimated at £80 million.

The chairman of Carphone Warehouse and Talk Talk, Essex-born Dunstone, 46, started his retail empire selling mobile phones from his west London flat in 1989. His fortune rose by £396 million to £1 billion in a year, after the demerger of Carphone Warehouse and Talk Talk. Carphone Warehouse is Europe's largest independent mobile phone retailer and Dunstone was awarded a Knighthood in 2012 for services to the mobile communications industry.

Author of the hugely successful Harry Potter series, Joanne Kathleen Rowling, has a net worth of £560 million – making her the world's richest author. Rowling wrote the first Potter books on a manual typewriter while a single mother living on benefits. The manuscript for the first Harry Potter novel was rejected by 12 publishers and when finally accepted, Rowling received an advance of just £1,500. Harry Potter is the highest-grossing film series of all-time and the brand has been estimated to be worth as much as £10 billion.

East-ender Lord Sugar, best known for his no-nonsense judging on BBC1s The Apprentice, started his career at 16, selling car aerials and electrical goods out of a van he had bought with savings of £50. In 1968 at the age of 21, Sugar started home electronics company, Amstrad (short for Alan Michael Sugar Trading). By the age of 40 he was worth about £600m. Sir Alan sold Amstrad in 2007, and is now worth a reported £770m, with much of his wealth coming from his extensive property empire.

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