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The Queen Might Go Broke!

Razors Edge

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...if the Russian sanctions continue!

Roman Abramovich isn’t allowed to pay rent to Queen Elizabeth. 

The U.K. has sanctioned nearly two dozen Russian oligarchs as well as a set of Russian banks and other companies tied to the Kremlin, and added Mr. Abramovich, the Russian billionaire owner of Chelsea Football Club, on Thursday.

These sanctions are designed to block oligarchs from making money in the West—to exact financial pain on those close to President Vladimir Putin. But they have also spawned a raft of rules that upend more routine transactions related to properties and businesses they own. These include ground rent payments to the monarchy. 

Mr. Abramovich paid $140 million for a 15-bedroom home in 2011 just down the street from Kensington Palace, home to Prince William. While he owns the 1848-built mansion— complete with the skylit underground pool he built beneath expansive gardens—the land beneath is owned by the Crown Estate, an entity created by Parliament that oversees a roughly $18 billion portfolio of land and other assets on behalf of the British crown. 

Under the terms of a 125-year ground lease, Mr. Abramovich must make modest lease payments—which start at £10,000 a year and go up to £160,000 over the term of the lease—to the Crown Estate, according to land records.

A spokeswoman for Crown Estates said the organization was examining its portfolio and doing all it can “to comply swiftly with the introduction of sanctions or other directions that may apply.” She declined to comment on specific properties or Mr. Abramovich.

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I have questions.

"skylit" underground pool?  If it's lit by the sky, is it really underground?  If the crown owns the land below the building, does that go all the way down to the magma, or is it just a thin layer so technically they didn't build the pool on Royal land?


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