Sears Tooth
Clare Conway meets Raymond Tooth - Sunday Times Magazine

He’s ruthless, he revels in the nickname Jaws and he has the sharpest teeth in the business. Clare Conway meets Raymond Tooth, the most feared divorce lawyer in Britain. Raymond Tooth flashes an unsettling smile. His nickname is “Jaws”. He is a fearsome lawyer, Britain’s top divorce solicitor, the go-to man for anyone who wants to see their spouse humiliated, destroyed and ruined. In the 1970s, this cigar-smoking 75-year-old took on the mafia in Las Vegas and the South African government during the apartheid era. But he says crime was “boring as hell” and not as lucrative as divorce. Tooth’s selling point, which he personally revels in, is “Don’t get even — get Tooth!”

In his 35 years as a divorce lawyer, he has seen close up how the rich fight dirty in the marital battleground, he has been “attacked and bashed up” by one irate husband, and has uncovered fortunes squirrelled away by secretive ex-husbands.

Among his high-profile clients were Irina Malandina, the second wife of Roman Abramovich (£155m); Sadie Frost when she divorced Jude Law (and got £4m, the £2m house in Primrose Hill and £150,000 a year in maintenance); Pattie Boyd when she divorced Eric Clapton; and Eimear Montgomerie, former wife of Colin Montgomerie (Tooth got her a £15m settlement). Most recently he handled a 105-second quickie divorce for Jo Westwood, who was married to the disgraced celebrity publicist Max Clifford.

London has become the favoured arena for the world’s wealthiest divorcing couples. This is down to the generous settlements on offer. Anyone who can successfully argue that London is their main home can divorce in this country. What counts is getting in first and playing the system like “a game of chess”, according to Tooth.

Certainly, it seems women have the upper hand. In March, the Supreme Court ruled that Kathleen Wyatt could bring a £1.9m claim against her former husband, Dale Vince, whom she divorced 23 years earlier when they were both penniless hippies and before he became an eco-tycoon. The Supreme Court decided there is no time limit on making a claim for financial provision.

“The court will look at needs in terms of the standard of living they’ve enjoyed,” says Tooth. “If they’ve lived the lives of enormously rich people, then a driver may be suitable. We did one for a Saudi Arabian: a million [pounds] for each child a year,” he says, adding as an afterthought: “In many cases [the wives] have only flown in private jets, and the poor things have to go first class.”

And there are the arguments, tortuous squabbles “down to the spoons, even”, when dividing up a couple’s assets — all conducted against the backdrop of Tooth’s £500 hourly rate. Most divorces take no more than five days in court; Tooth’s longest case lasted three months. “On one occasion, my client — the wife — was in tears. After that, the husband was in tears. And then even I burst into tears, it was so frustrating!”

He sighs, shakes his head. “There are no winners in this.” You win? I venture. He smiles, all teeth, naturally. Most cases settle. When they don’t, it’s down to five things, says Tooth: “Husband too mean. Wife too greedy. Too much emotion. Bad legal advice. Nondisclosure of assets: fatal.” Sometimes, hidden assets can be “right in front of your face”, he says. “We had a chap who said he had no property, but we found a house he’d built in Surrey. I also found a Swiss account once, just from the back of an envelope.”

His eyes twinkle. He’s positively gleeful. “Once the judge finds out you’ve lied, you’re smashed!” Tooth represented Scot Young, the bankrupt tycoon who had been locked in a £300m divorce with his wife, Michelle, and who died last December after falling from the window of his Marylebone townhouse. “He went to prison because he didn’t comply with court orders for disclosure. He was ordered to answer this question, do that, and he didn’t do it.”

Sometimes, however, there is a happy ending, says Tooth. “I’ve known men marry their same wives again, which shows an enormous lack of imagination.” As he tells it, one husband and wife reconciled during the middle of a “very bitter” divorce. “We were just dividing up the contents of the house. They went and had a good bonk, and called the whole thing off.”

Victoria Ward - 8 Aug 2017 in London- National Post

Roman Abramovich and his third wife Dasha Zhukova at the Champions League final between Bayern Munich and his Chelsea team in 2012. Roman Abramovich ended his last marriage with a reputed settlement of 195 million — small change for a multibillionaire.

This time, the Russian oligarch and owner of the English soccer club Chelsea FC may not be so lucky, after announcing that he has separated from his third wife, Dasha Zhukova.

The couple said in a joint statement Monday they had “made the difficult decision to separate” after 10 years together.

The 50- year- old Abramovich and 36- year- old Zhukova have two children and founded the Garage Museum of Contemporary Art, Russia’s prominent modern art museum. The Moscow museum hosts popular exhibits and become one of the most-visited art venues in the Russian capital.

The couple said in the statement that they remain “close friends, parents, and partners” and would continue to work together on Garage and the New Holland Island cultural hub in St. Petersburg.

While they insisted the split was amicable, they could get embroiled in the world’s costliest divorce if forced to untangle the tycoon’s estimated $9.1 billion fortune.

Abramovich owns the football club, the second largest yacht in the world and several luxury properties, including a mansion in New York and a property in Kensington Palace Gardens. Among his fleet of supercars is a Ferrari FXX prototype worth around $ 1.9 million and a Bugatti Veyron, priced at $2.6 million.

However, Zhukova, an art collector, is the independently wealthy daughter of a Russian oil magnate and may not have any desire to pursue her husband for money.

In a joint statement, the couple said: “After 10 years together, the two of us have made the difficult decision to separate, but we remain close friends, parents and partners in the projects we developed together.”

Legal experts said they expected Abramovich to have a prenuptial agreement in place and any divorce proceedings would be dealt with by a Russian court in order to protect his assets, much like his previous divorce, when he is understood to have ended his 16-year marriage to second wife Irina Vyacheslavovna Malandina at a cost of $195 million in Moscow in 2007. Details have remained hidden under Russia’s secretive legal system, but it is thought Malandina was given a lump sum as well as four homes and provision for their five children.

Abramovich and Zhukova were first seen together in public in 2005. The oligarch was still married to Malandina, but their friendship strengthened and Zhukova and her father, Alexander Zhukov, were invited to Abramovich’s New Year party later that year.

Her father is an oil, metals and banking tycoon who owns a mansion block in Kensington, west London, as well as homes in New York and Moscow.

The couple married secretly around nine years ago. Their first child, Abramovich’s sixth, Aaron Alexander, was born in December 2009 and daughter Leah Lou was born in April 2013, both in the United States.

Abramovich married his first wife, Olga Yurevna Lysova, in December 1987 but was divorced just three years later. He wed Malandina in 1991, before he made his fortune in the Russian privatization boom.

Raymond Tooth, a London divorce lawyer, said it was “inconceivable” that Abramovich and Zukhova would not have a pre-nup.

“He will have done a deal and will sort it out in Russia to avoid any claims in an English court,” he said.

Richard Spillett in London & Will Stewart in Moscow - Mail Online

Chelsea owner Abramovich, 50, and his third wife Dasha Zhukova, 36 announced their shock split this week. Some are predicting it could be the most expensive divorce in history as she could get hundreds of millions. Russian media reports have now said Russian billionaire is interested in married ballerina Diana Vishneva, 41. Abramovich's circle have rebuffed the talks as 'total nonsense' and there is no evidence for any of the claims.

A married ballerina said to have sparked the interest of newly-single Roman Abramovich cheered on his Chelsea team in their first game of the new football season on Sunday.

Abramovich, 50, who is worth £7billion, and his magazine editor wife Dasha Zhukova, 36, announced this week that they 'amicably' agreed to part ways, but will continue to work together for their joint businesses and two children.

In the days since their separation, Russian media have claimed Abramovich is 'captivated' by glamorous ballerina Diana Vishneva, 41.

Ms Vishneva is currently in London with her husband Konstantin while performing in Anna Karenina with the Mariinsky Ballet at the Royal Opera House.

She posted photos of herself and other dancers during a visit to Chelsea's match with Arsenal on Sunday. It is not believed Abramovich was at the match, and he was most recently pictured in St Petersburg.

The dancer was first linked with Abramovich three years ago in Russian media reports, but those were they dismissed at the time by her father and the Chelsea tycoon, whose friends have also denied the latest claims.

Abramovich's circle have rebuffed the talk as 'total nonsense' and there is no evidence for any of the claims.

He is a known supporter of ballet and the arts, and previously paid £150,000-a-year to join the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow, where some of the world's most famous dancers perform.

A spokesman for 50-year-old Abramovich refused to comment when the stories circulating in Russia were put to him.

Asked by Ren TV in Moscow if there was a reason for their separation, his spokesman was quoted as saying: 'No, and even if I was to know it, it concerns no one but them.'

Ms Vishneva declined to comment on the claims made in Russia.

Some are already predicting Abramovich's split from Dasha could lead to the world's most expensive ever divorce, with the 41-year-old possibly in line for a payout worth hundreds of millions of pounds.

The magnitude of any payout, however, is likely to depend on if the divorce is heard in the Russian courts, which may favour Roman, or the notoriously tough English courts.

It may also depend on whether Dasha signed a pre-nup — something which Raymond Tooth, the lawyer who represented Roman's second wife Irina Malandina in her 2007 divorce against Roman, said he thought was likely.

Fiercely private, the couple's 2008 marriage — which produced Aaron, seven, and Leah, four — was kept secret for six years. Indeed, Dasha has since refused to talk about either her enigmatic husband or their life together.

In a joint statement, the couple said: 'After ten years together, the two of us have made the difficult decision to separate, but we remain close friends, parents and partners in the projects we developed together.'

The oligarch consulted his second wife, Irina, about the split.

A neighbour, who previously lived near Abramovich and his ex in their Fyning Hill estate near Rogate, in West Sussex, revealed the tycoon had been working out details of his latest separation for 'some time'.

The man, who declined to be named, but remains on good terms with Irina — who got the estate as part of her 2007 settlement, said to be worth around £150 million — told the Mail: 'I'm assured that Abramovich and his wife split after Christmas, and have essentially been living separate lives for most of this year.

'Apparently, it has been a bit of a nightmare because they had to tell their two children and he had to also find an appropriate occasion to tell the five children he has with Irina.'

The news comes one week after Abramovich attended a social event in St Petersburg without Dasha.

Meanwhile, she has been seen enjoying herself on a night out in New York and was spotted back in March having dinner with the boyfriend of supermodel Karlie Kloss, investment banker Joshua Kushner, whose brother is married to Ivanka Trump.

She spent her birthday in New York with her two children and was photographed not wearing her wedding ring on June 8.

Of course, for all the reportedly amicable nature of the split, that hasn't stopped tongues wagging about how those very sizeable assets may be divided up.

Abramovich owns properties all over the world and the couple have been reported to throw lavish parties on their £1 billion luxury yacht, Eclipse — at 536ft the second-largest in the world — which boasts a helipad, submarine, hot tubs and its own disco dancefloor. Holidays are spent on the Caribbean island of St Barts.

When not bobbing around at sea, they travel in a £55 million private Boeing 767, the interior of which is reported to be a vision of deluxe chestnut wood and gold fittings, and drive around in Roman's £1.5 million custom-built Ferrari.

On land, Abramovich shares his wife's more down-to-earth hobby for cycling, but again, no expense is spared — his bike is custom-built and cost an estimated £15,000.

Even their pet dog is a pedigree corgi worth around £950. Then there's the shopping. In 2008, it was reported Abramovich went on a £60 million spree at Christie's and Sotheby's in New York, snapping up Lucian Freud's painting Benefits Supervisor Sleeping for £17 million and Francis Bacon's Triptych (1976) for £43 million a day later.

Not content with their £125 million Grade II-listed West London home — in Billionaires' Row near Kensington Palace — Abramovich was last year granted permission to transform his 'miserable' swimming pool into a £28 million subterranean complex.

As for New York, he wasn't so lucky. His plan for a £58 million mega-mansion was branded 'a whole new level of egregious consumption'.

The Russian billionaire was told by New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission that his proposal to turn three landmarked townhouses — bought over a period of 18 months — into one property was an 'unjustified tear-down'.

Roman was first introduced to Dasha at a dinner party in 2005, while he was still married to Irina Malandina, a former air stewardess.

At the point they met, his marriage to Irina was already said to be on the rocks.

The daughter of a wealthy Russian oil magnate and scientist mother, Dasha was born into the Russian intelligentsia, studied at a top U.S. university and abandoned plans to become a doctor to launch her own fashion brand.

Today, she is a renowned art collector, the editor-in-chief of her own magazine, Garage, and owns an arts centre in Russia's Gorky Park. Her non-profit Iris Foundation is dedicated to promoting contemporary culture. 

For Roman, orphaned at the age of four and said to be sensitive about his lack of education — despite business skills that turned him into a billionaire in his homeland almost overnight — intellectual, fun-loving Dasha seemed the perfect foil.

Now sources say she may have simply tired of her gilded life as wife of one of the world's richest men.

While he inhabited a macho environment with like-minded male friends and associates, she thrived in the company of artists. Abramovich biographer Chris Hutchins, co-author of The Billionaire From Nowhere, says his research suggested women would always come second to work. He doesn't drink or smoke and is no playboy. It's work and business.

Hutchins continues: 'Until now, Dasha has been content to live a gilded life alongside one of the richest men on the planet.

From a market stall selling dolls to a Chelsea mansion: The VERY different lives of Abramovich's wives

The gifts he has bought her include a $14 million Giacometti sculpture and a group of 40 paintings by the Russian artist Ilya Kabakov ($30-60 million each).'

Little is known about Roman's first wife, Olga. The couple married in 1987, but were divorced just three years later in 1990. They did not have any children together.

In 1988, as perestroika opened up opportunities for privatisation in the Soviet Union, Abramovich and Olga set up a sucessful company making dolls. Some reports have suggested his first wife received a two-bed flat and just two years' maintenance. 

After this divorce, Roman started investing in other businesses, from oil companies to pig farms, then specialising in the trading of oil and metals — which made him his fabulous wealth.

Roman and second wife Irina married in 1991. They split in 2007 amid reports that he was dating Dasha, then aged 25.

Much speculation followed as to how much their divorce settlement would be worth, with it eventually being reported that Irina had been awarded £155 million — believed to be one of the largest settlements in the world.

Her divorce lawyer, Raymond Tooth, refuses to discuss the divorce settlement but told the Mail that Abramovich's latest divorce could cost him just a fraction of his wealth, even if it amounts to hundreds of millions of pounds.

He said his 'gut feeling' was that any divorce would most likely take place in Russia where pre-nuptial agreements are honoured without question and the courts don't award maintenance to wives.

He added: 'There are probably two countries [where it could take place] — England and Russia. There's probably most certainly a pre-nuptial agreement. In Russia, if you enter into that sort of agreement, that would be the end of the story. You cannot get maintenance in Russia for women, only for children.

'But I doubt whether there will be a fight — and there will be an agreement. It won't be billions. But it certainly could be hundreds of millions.'

'One reason is because England is seen as extremely fair. The English courts see them as equal partners. They will look at what they have accumulated over the years of that marriage and will look to share it out.

'That's the yardstick they are working from. In that context, you could be looking at a huge sum, potentially. If it happens in Russia, she might get an awful lot less.'