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Elena Zhukova

Movers & Shakers

We see you: Elena Zhukova

This former biologist and ex-wife of a Russian oligarch is set to be the next—fifth—Mrs. Rupert Murdoch.

The people—young, old, and everyone in between—who most intrigue us.

Why we’re watching her: Zhukova, 67, is a retired molecular biologist, the ex-wife of a Russian oligarch and soon-to-be fifth wife of Rupert Murchoch, 92, the paterfamilias of News Corp. (Take a beat to absorb all that.)

Catch her in the wild: The Moscow-born Zhukova worked in medical research at UCLA, specializing in diabetes, but she has clearly left lab work behind. “The former scientist moves in the circles of Greek shipping magnates, the exclusive international art world and the shadowy demi-monde of oligarchs with links to Vladimir Putin,” according to The Telegraph.

Meet cute, yacht edition: The two lovebirds were introduced by Murdoch’s third wife, Wendy Deng, while on a family cruise aboard the dingy originally built for Aristotle Onassis, the Christina O. (What, you thought they met on Bumble?) According to The New York Times, invitations to the June wedding at Murdoch’s California vineyard and estate, Moraga, have already gone out.

Elena Zhukova and Rupert Murdoch
The couple reportedly started dating last August and were spotted cruising the Mediterranean on a family summer holiday. The nuptials are set for June. Photo via X
Katya, Elena, and Dasha Zhokova
Elena Zhokova, center, with daughters Katya, left, and Dasha—who is now married to Stavros Niarchos III, and was previously wife of Roman Abramovich, one of Russia’s richest men, for ten years. Photo by David X Prutting/BFA images

The ex factor: Murdoch has his share of trophy exes, including Jerry Hall, but Zhukova herself is no slouch when it comes to marrying up. Her previous husband, Russian-born billionaire Alexander Zhukov, “amassed a fortune in oil worth around $7 billion and owns a private jet as well as properties in Russia, Britain, and Sardinia,” according to the Daily Beast. The term “off-shore” appears frequently in stories about his fortune.

Russian roulette: A taste for oligarchs runs in the family. Zhukova’s daughter, Dasha, 42, was married to Roman Abramovich, one of Russia’s richest men, for ten years.‌ She founded Garage Museum of Contemporary Art in 2008 and Garage magazine in 2011. The divorce, according to The Telegraph, was amicable. “Abramovich transferred some $92 million worth of property to Dasha, including a four-story mansion in Manhattan.” (Side note: Abramovich was forced to sell his prized possession, Chelsea Football Club, after the British government sanctioned him for having “clear connections to Vladimir Putin,” according to Tatler.)

Dasha went on to marry Stavros Niarchos III, the heir to the Greek shipping empire in a $6.5 million wedding in St. Moritz. (Again, not Bumble.) Now based in Manhattan, the mother of three is a major presence in the art world with seats on the board of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Shed and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art— though things got a little dicey after the invasion of Ukraine. While swanky friends like Anna Wintour and Larry Gagosian didn’t drop Dasha, they cut off interviews with the New York Times the minute the words “Moscow”  and “money” were mentioned in the same breath. Dasha made a strategic decision to lay low and skip the Met Gala in 2022, but she’s back on the scene full force now.

Party spirit animal: The fox: quick-witted, clever, curious and cunning.

Prediction: When the Murdoch kids—including feuding sons James and Lachlan—meet the former oligarch’s offspring, sparks are sure to fly. Succession screenwriters, take note.

Hero photo from Naked Hearts Foundation

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