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Lebedev: Lord of Siberia | Door after door in Britain has been opened for Evgeny Lebedev, all the way to the House of Lords. Who has opened them, and why?

Evgeny Lebedev: In pictures

Evgeny Lebedev: In pictures

Little is publicly known about Evgeny Lebedev’s rise to the upper echelons of the British establishment – but there are plenty of photographs

One day in May 2006, Evgeny Lebedev’s public relations agent took him to see Tatler editor-in-chief Geordie Greig. She told him that Evgeny wanted to launch a charity with a Russian called Michael “Goo-ba-cheff” at Althorp House, Princess Diana’s childhood home, and would he like to cover it in the magazine. Do you mean, Greig asked her, “Gorbachev, the Man Who Changed The World”? 

She looked blank, but Evgeny appears pleased that Greig got the significance of the event. Tatler wouldn’t only cover it, Greig said, but would co-host the party. And what a party it would be: “A Russian Midsummer Fantasy.”

Evgeny, then 27 years old, and his former KGB officer father Alexander spent £2m in today’s money on oysters and golden Oscietra caviar; on people in 18th-century dress sitting in trees like a “Watteau painting” and a troop of Cossacks who charged from the woods and then did an equestrian ballet in front of guests including Salman Rushdie and Orlando Bloom, Tracey Emin and Claire Danes. In the end, the “Lebs” raised £500,000 less for the charity than they spent on the party. But its returns, in the long term, were astronomical. 

The Althorp party marked Evgeny’s entry into London society and, ultimately, the heart of Britain’s establishment. Within 15 fast years, which covered waves of Russian money crashing on the UK, changing relations between the two countries, the decline of public service and rise of private interests in politics, Evgeny secured a seat in the House of Lords as “Baron Lebedev, of Hampton in the London borough of Richmond-upon-Thames and Siberia in the Russian Federation”. Along the way, he acquired national newspapers, countless celebrities from Katie Price to Elton John and Judi Dench, aristocrats, and powerful politicians, not least Boris Johnson. 

It’s an extraordinary ascent, in many ways opaque – yet very well photographed.

Evgeny Lebedev (right), poses with former Russian president Mikhail Gorbachev (second from right) and his daughter and granddaughters at the Raisa Gorbachev Foundation Launch Party at Althorp House, June 2006
Evgeny with (from left to right) Mikhail Gorbachev, Ralph Fiennes and his father Alexander Lebedev at the Raisa Gorbachev Foundation Party at Hampton Court Palace, June 2007

Above left: David Furnish and Evgeny attend a fundraiser party.
Above right: Evgeny attends Andy and Patti Wong’s Chinese New Year Party at Madame Tussauds in 2007 in fancy dress.

Sir Elton John and Evgeny at the Raisa Gorbachev Foundation Party at Hampton Court Palace, 2007

Above left: Yefgeni at Andy and Patti Wong’s Chinese New Year Party at the Royal Courts Of Justice, London, 2006
Above right: Evgeny with Claire Danes at the Raisa Gorbachev Foundation Launch Party at Althorp House, June 2006

From left to right, Evgeny, Gorbachev and Geordie Greig arrive at the Raisa Gorbachev Foundation Party, Hampton Court Palace, June 2008

Above left: Ana Matronic, Gorbachev and Evgeny attend the Raisa Gorbachev Foundation Party at Hampton Court Palace, June 2007
Above right: Evgeny with Geri Halliwell at the Serpentine Summer Party at The Serpentine Gallery, London, July 2007

Anastasia Virganskaya, Gorbachev, Vanessa Redgrave and Evgeny arrive at the Raisa Gorbachev Foundation Annual Fundraising Gala Dinner, 2009

Evgeny at the launch of his restaurant Sake No Hana with (above left) Lady Gabriella Windsor and (above right) Charles Spencer, London, November 2007

Above left: Evgeny with Margo Stilley at Andy & Patti Wong’s Chinese New Year party, London, 2007

Above right: Evgeny with Anna Friel at the Raisa Gorbachev Foundation afterparty, Hampton Court Palace, June 2007

Gorbachev, Boris Johnson and Evgeny at the Raisa Gorbachev Foundation Annual Fundraising Gala Dinner, 2009

Above left: Evgeny and HRH Prince Michael of Kent at Nicky Haslam’s party for Janet de Botton to beat the Credit-Crunch, Parkstead House, 2008

Above right: Evgeny with Christian Louboutin at the Fourth Annual Fundraising Gala Dinner for the Raisa Gorbachev Foundation, House Hampton Court Palace, June 2009

Evgeny Lebedev, Alexander Lebedev, Charles Finch and Joely Richardson attend the Love Ball London on 23 February 2010

Above left: Evgeny with Lord Peter Mandelson at the reception for the opening of an exhibition on Azerbaijani carpets, London, November 2010

Above right: Evgeny with Stephen Fry at the London Evening Standard Theatre Awards, London, November 2010

Left to right: Xenia Virganskaya, Anastasia Virganskaya, Irina Virganskaya, Mikhail Gorbachev, Evgeny Lebedev, Alexander Lebedev, Elena Lebedev, Miroslava Duma and Geordie Greig at the Raisa Gorbachev Foundation Party, Hampton Court Palace, 5 June 2010

Evgeny at the London Evening Standard Theatre Awards with (above left) Daily Mail owner Lord Rothermere and (above right) then London mayor Boris Johnson

Evgeny Lebedev, with artists Gilbert (centre) and George (right), attends the London Evening Standard Theatre Awards at the Savoy Hotel on 28 November 2010

Boris Johnson, Evgeny Lebedev and Rachel Johnson attend the London Evening Standard‘s 1000 Most Influential Londoners in November 2012

Evgeny Lebedev, Dame Judi Dench and Sir Ian McKellen attend an afterparty following the London Evening Standard Theatre Awards, November 2012

Kevin Spacey, Evgeny Lebedev, Sarah Sands (then editor of the Evening Standard) and Dame Kiri Te Kanawa attend a drinks reception at the London Evening Standard Theatre Awards, November 2013

Evgeny Lebedev, Dame Edna Everage and Nick Clegg (then deputy prime minister) at the London Evening Standard Theatre Awards, London, November 2013

Evgeny Lebedev with Grayson Perry at the London Evening Standard Theatre Awards, London, November 2013

Masha Markova Hanson, Danny Huston, Evgeny Lebedev and Naomi Campbell attend The Serpentine Gallery Summer Party, London, July 2014

Evgeny Lebedev, Hugh Grant and Matthew Williamson attend the Unicef UK Halloween Ball, London, October 2014

Sir Elton John, Ruth Dundas and Evgeny Lebedev attend the Louis Dundas Centre Dinner, London, November 2014

Evgeny Lebedev, Benedict Cumberbatch and James McAvoy attend an afterparty following the 60th London Evening Standard Theatre Awards, London, November 2014

Charles, the Prince of Wales speaks with Evgeny Lebedev during a visit to the London Evening Standard offices in Kensington, February 2015

Sophie Dahl, Evgeny Lebedev, Anna Friel and Tom Hooper attend The Serpentine Summer Party, London, July 2016

Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Evgeny Lebedev attend the London Evening Standard Theatre Awards, London, November 2016

Glenn Close, Evgeny Lebedev, Lady Madeleine Lloyd Webber and Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber attend the London Evening Standard Theatre Awards afterparty, London, November 2016

Evgeny Lebedev, Charlotte Carroll, Harvey Weinstein and Elena Perminova attend the Animal Ball, London, November 2016

Teresa (Tree) Waller-Bridge, Evgeny Lebedev, Phoebe Waller-Bridge and Idris Elba attend the Evening Standard Theatre Awards afterparty, London, November 2018

Above left: Jerry Hall and Rupert Murdoch leaving Evgeny’s 2017 Christmas party, London
The 2018 Christmas party was attended by Rod Stewart (above right), Jeremy and Lucia Hunt (below left) and Peter Mandelson (below right)

Evgeny’s 2019 Christmas party was attended by former prime minister David Cameron and his wife and Samantha (top left) and the current occupants of Number 10 Boris and Carrie Johnson (above right)

Photographs by David M. Benett/Getty Images, GORC/GC Images, Stuart C. Wilson – WPA Pool / Getty Images, Jeremy Selwyn , Nick Harvey/WireImage, Jon Furniss/WireImage

Next in this file

Lebedev: Lord of Siberia

Lebedev: Lord of Siberia

Door after door in Britain has been opened for Evgeny Lebedev, all the way to the House of Lords. Who has opened them, and why?

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