Birth Of Ashkenazi’s Children Was A National Scandal In Kazakhstan
London – Every working single mother knows what it’s like to juggle childcare with the demands of a career.
But having billions in the bank allows you to take a very different approach – especially when Britain is home and work is in Italy.
Goga Ashkenazi, a socialite friend of Prince Andrew, has revealed how she leaves her two boys with a team of carers in her London mansion during the week while she runs a fashion label in Milan.
Adam, eight, and four-year-old Alan stay with their own individual nannies and tutors at the £28-million family home and see their mother at the weekend – when she returns on her private jet.
The Kazakh-born oligarch and socialite, 36, said: “Of course I miss my children; of course I have thought about them being in Milan, but there are no schools here.”
Giving a glimpse into the lifestyle of a super-rich single mom, she said she worries about the “non-stop” pressure of occupying her sons during the school holidays.
“These British school holidays are endless,” she said. “That’s all I do, organise holidays. It’s non-stop!
“At Easter, the boys were in [Swiss ski resort] St Moritz. They skied until the last day when the lift literally closed, then there were two and a half weeks left to organise. I have half-term to plan; there’s two weeks in October, another in February.”
Oxford-educated Miss Ashkenazi added: “I have tremendous respect for women who work and bring up a family. I have so much help from my family, but I still feel one or the other suffers. I can’t concentrate on everything as perfectly as if I was properly here, 100 percent of the time, with my children. It’s difficult.”
The former investment banker, who made her fortune in Kazakhstan’s gas and oil industry, bought Milan fashion label Vionnet four years ago and appointed herself “creative director”.
After flying to Italy on her own jet, she spends the working week living in a 17th century “bachelorette pad”, which is lined with artwork by Picasso, Tracey Emin and Andy Warhol.
As well as its own gym, it boasts a two-storey wardrobe and beauty salon. It also features a garden pool and cinema – which she has never used.
Home in London is the luxurious property in the exclusive Holland Park area, where she often hosts the Duke of York for dinner and counts the Beckhams as close neighbours.
The boys have a study each but like to sleep together.
The birth of Ashkenazi’s children was a national scandal in Kazakhstan when it was revealed that their father is Timur Kulibayev – the married son-in-law of the country’s president.
It was Ashkenazi who introduced him to the Duke of York. However, the oligarch was later accused of money laundering when he bought the prince’s Sunninghill Park mansion for £3-million above the asking price in 2007. In another controversy, Ashkenazi described how she recently angered locals in Iceland when her entourage landed on an active volcano in a helicopter, leading to the pilot losing his licence.
Speaking about her past behaviour, she told The Times: “I would be very disapproving of some of the things I’ve done and some of the things I still do.”
The mother of two, whose original name Gaukhar means diamond in Kazakh, was born in Moscow to communist parents before moving to England aged 12 to attend private school.
She went on to study history and philosophy at Oxford, before starting a business with her older sister that saw her become a billionaire by the age of 30. She said: ‘” used to hate going to work. Financial success was a driving force. It’s difficult to turn your back on it. You always think, ‘Just one more project, one more deal, one more contract’.”
Despite lamenting the pressures of work, the socialite often indulges an array of interests, including clubbing in Ibiza – and hunting wolves in Kazakhstan.
A keen art collector, she claims to own more than 500 valuable pieces, and on one occasion bid £240 000 at an auction when she accidentally raised to her hand to wave to US pop star Jennifer Lopez. She said: “They say, ‘you have to choose your place: you can be mass-market or you can be luxury’. I’m luxury.”
The 5ft 10in businesswoman decided to enter the world of fashion during her second pregnancy. “There was a point of my life when I was slightly without a conscience,” she added.
“I was trying to seem to be something, but then someone I deeply respect said, ‘Goga, don’t seem, just be. It will liberate you’. [So] I began living for me, doing something I’d always dreamt of doing and really being very happy.”
Since her three-year marriage to American hotels heir Stefan Ashkenazy ended in 2007, Ashkenazi has been linked with a string of bachelors and was once an acquaintance of Colonel Gaddafi’s son Saif.