Translation: Oligarchs, A Comparative Analysis

In her weekly column for Novaya Gazeta, Russian journalist and writer Yulia Latynina compares the civic-mindedness of American and Russian oligarchs – and not to Russia’s favor.

The US

John Hopkins (1795-1873) – one of the richest men of the 19th century, trader and joint owner of railways – founded John Hopkins University (16th in the university ratings) and John Hopkins Hospital.

John Rockefeller (1839-1937) – head of Standard Oil, the richest person in history – founded the University of Chicago (10th in the world university ratings) in 1889. He also founded Rockefeller University and the Rockefeller Foundation.

Andrew Carnegie – founder of Carnegie Steel Company, the second richest person in the US after John Rockefeller – donated money for the creation of more than 2,500 libraries across the whole world. He founded the Carnegie Foundation and Carnegie Mellon University.

Anthony Drexel (1826 –1893) – American banker, partner of J.P. Morgan – founded Drexel University.

Cornelius Vanderbilt (1794-1877) founded Vanderbilt University.

Andrew Mellon (1855 – 1937) – banker, businessman, the third biggest taxpayer in the US during the 1920’s after Rockefeller and Ford – donated $43 million (at 1920’s price levels) to the University of Pittsburgh. Founded the Mellon Institute of Industrial Research.

Will Kellogg (1860-1951) – billionaire, producer of Kellogg’s cereals – founded the  California State Polytechnic University and the Kellogg Foundation.

Howard Hughes (1905 – 1976) – aviator, inventor, billionaire (Hughes Aircraft and Hughes Airspace) – founded the Howard Hughes Medical Institute in 1953. As of today, the Institute’s endowment totals nearly $16 billion.

Michael Bloomberg – the current Mayor of New York, billionaire, owner of the financial news agency Bloomberg – donated $300 million to John Hopkins University.

Bill Gates – head of Microsoft, billionaire – founded the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. It is the largest private charitable foundation in the world, with an endowment of $36 billion. Among other things, the Foundation spent $1.5 billion on stipends for talented ethnic minority students and $250 million on improving schools in the US.

Warren Buffett – billionaire, investment guru, head of Berkshire Hathaway, the world’s richest person in 2008 – bequeathed 83% of his fortune (nearly $30 billion) to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

By the way: Princeton was founded thanks to four rich landowners: John Stockton, Thomas Leonard, John Horner, John Hornor, and Nathaniel Fitzrandolph – who provided land and money to the university. Harvard was founded by the State of Massachusetts and named in honor of John Harvard, who bequeathed the university a library and money for its upkeep. Yale was named in honor of Eli Yale, a son of Boston and governor of Madras, who donated books and valuable objects to the university.


Roman Abramovich, billionaire, entrepreneur, bought Chelsea Football Club.

Alisher Usmanov, billionaire, entrepreneur, bought Arsenal Football Club.

Suleiman Kerimov, billionaire, entrepreneur, bought Anzhi Football Club.

Leonid Fedun, billionaire, joint owner of Lukoil, bought Spartak Football Club.

Oleg Deripaska, billionaire, owner of Rusal, bought Kuban Football Club.

Anton Zingarevich, son of Boris Zingarevich – who is a billionaire, businessman, and owner of Ilim Pulp – bought Reading Football Club.

Maksim Demin, millionaire, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the National Insurance Group, bought Bournemouth Football Club.

Dmitry Rybolovlev, billionaire, ex-owner of Uralkali, bought AS Monaco Football Club.

Vladimir Antonov, billionaire, banker, bought Portmouth Football Club.

Gazprom bought Zenit Football Club. The investment is valued at $150 million. Gazprom likewise sponsors the German club Schalke, the Serbian club Red Star Belgrade, the Russian club Sakhalin, and is a partner of the UEFA Champions League.

Among these swarms of soccer fans there is an exception. Mikhail Khodorkovsky, billionaire, owner of Yukos, sponsored the Russian State University for the Humanities and founded the Open Society Foundation*. At the present time, Khodorkovsky is in prison.

The original publicationСравнительный анализ олигархов (Юлия Латынина, Новая Газета). 21 January, 2013.

Translator’s notes:

* The Open Society Foundation was founded by George Soros. Khodorkovsky founded the Open Russia Foundation.