Harry and Meghan bought their dream California home from a Russian oligarch who allegedly threatened to chop up his wife.
Questions were being asked last night about how much the couple knew before splashing £11million on a nine-bedroom mansion on the market for a knockdown price.
The previous owner of the Chateau of Riven Rock – as their new home is known – was Sergey Grishin, 54, nicknamed the ‘Scarface Oligarch’.
He sold the seven-acre site, complete with pool, tennis court, guest quarters and stunning main house, to the Sussexes for a heavy discount, having previously asked £26million just three years ago.
Grishin and his ex-wife Anna Fedoseeva are embroiled in a lurid legal battle of claim and counter-claim.
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle splashed £11million on the nine-bedroom mansion in California, which was previously owned by Sergey Grishin, 54, nicknamed the ‘Scarface Oligarch’
Her court action includes allegations that he held a gun to her head and knocked out her teeth – claims he denies.
Other accusations are that Grishin also waged an alleged campaign of harassment against his ex-wife’s business partner, Jennifer Sulkess with claims of assault, battery, extortion, domestic violence, invasion of privacy and cyberstalking.
A spokesman for Grishin said he was ‘the unfortunate victim of a fraud’ perpetrated by his former wife ‘in respect of which he has been obliged to file legal proceedings against her’.
The spokesman added: ‘His legal claim sets out that fewer than two months after their marriage, Ms Fedoseeva became romantically involved with another woman and thereafter entered into a scheme to defraud him out of millions of dollars to finance her and her lover’s lifestyles.
‘When that fraudulent scheme failed, Ms Fedoseeva made a series of false and highly defamatory allegations about Mr Grishin – including of physical threats and violence – which are utterly fanciful, hotly denied and have no basis in truth whatever, and which Mr Grishin trusts will be proven to be entirely false when the matter comes before the court.’
Grishin faces jail over allegations that he held a gun to his estranged wife Anna Fedoseeva’s head and knocked out her teeth
Grishin (left and a picture he posted online claiming his wife beat him up, right) and his wife lived in the Santa Barbara house until the middle of 2017
Miss Sulkess, 30, told the Daily Mail last night: ‘I keep reading articles which say that Harry and Meghan have ‘quietly’ bought this house.
‘I would try and keep it quiet too if I bought a house from a Russian oligarch who was…in court for terrorising his wife with a gun. He is a monster.
‘Clearly whatever advisers they have cannot have done any kind of due diligence.’
Former Home Office minister turned royal author Norman Baker said: ‘I’d advise them to check the contract very carefully and be sure, if you are going to do business with people like that you need to be very careful.’
Royal commentator Dickie Arbiter said: ‘They are no longer working members of the Royal Family – they should be financially independent, what they do now is entirely up to them.
They still have to live. The only question that begs an answer is why something so big for two people and a baby?’
The seven-acre site, complete with pool, tennis court, guest quarters and stunning main house, was previously owned by Sergey Grishin, 54
Prince Harry and his wife are said to have been living in the house for the last six weeks
Representatives for the Sussexes did not respond to requests for comment last night.
Nestled in the private hills of Montecito, just outside Santa Barbara, the house, boasting 16 bathrooms, has been up for sale since Grishin and his ex-wife Anna moved out in 2017.
It was after this that the marriage crumbled and his alleged threats began. Grishin has denied all of the allegations against him.
Surrounded by lush green gardens and overlooking the sea, the home has been described as a ‘hidden paradise’.
The eye-watering costs of running their home
The Sussexes took out a multi-million-pound mortgage to buy their spectacular home.
Sources say the couple are ‘proud’ to have bought the home without help from family.
Deeds show they took out a £7.25million mortgage to be paid back, plus interest, by 2050 – indicating they put down a deposit of around £3.8million.
Mortgage repayments will cost them some £30,000 a month and they will also have a yearly property tax of £220,000.
This is on top of the cost of maintenance, cleaning, staff and security and utilities which could run into tens of thousands of pounds a month.
The couple are also paying back the £2.4million spent on renovating Frogmore Cottage in £18,000-a-month instalments.
The stunning estate has everything Harry and Meghan and their son, Archie, one, could ever need.
As well as a pool surrounded by sun loungers, it has a wine cellar, play area and pub games room. The property is also secluded, accessed only by a private road.
One estate agent who spent an hour inside said it was ‘designed for someone who never wants to leave home’.
Brett Buschbom said: ‘I went through this house and an hour later I’m coming out like ‘wow’, the whole bottom floor felt like a resort with steam room, massage room, sauna, Jacuzzi, full bar, arcade and one of the most amazing wine cellars and that was just the basement.’
The Sussexes are said to have been living in the house for the last six weeks, after moving 90 miles along the coast from a mansion in Los Angeles where they were house guests. They bought their new home on June 18, after taking out a £7.25million, 30-year mortgage, deeds show.
The property was sold by Grishin’s Rockwell LLC to a mysterious company called the Residential Real Estate Trust.
The trust is registered to the address of California lawyer Andrew Meyer, Meghan’s business manager who she has used for years. A source said the couple ‘feel proud to have struck out on their own and they are saying they bought it without any help from his family.’
‘They do have a mortgage, but they see this as their own place, free from relying on anyone else – a proper family home,’ the source added. From its elevated position in the Santa Ynez Mountains, it enjoys spectacular views out to the sea – something the couple have reportedly said they wanted in the past. Aerial images give an idea of the scale of the estate, which covers 7.5 acres.
As part of the sale, and included in the price, the couple also bought a two-acre plot of land behind to give them even more privacy.
The property – which reportedly took five years to build – is accessed through grand entry gates and along a wide lane paved with ‘hand-cut Santa Barbara stone’ before a grand archway takes visitors through to the main entrance.
…but they could earn millions every year
PR experts have said the duke and duchess could become the world’s highest-earning celebrity couple – with riches stretching to a billion dollars within a decade.
As superstars of the international circuit they would be able to command six or even seven-figure fees just for turning up at an event.
In February, Prince Harry gave his first speech as a private citizen to a conference thrown in Miami by JP Morgan, where, according to some sources, he could have received a fee of up to £800,000.
Experts have said becoming a brand ambassador for a global giant such as Google or Apple could earn the couple tens of millions annually.
As a senior royal, Harry was prevented from making money from his celebrity. But he will have received millions of pounds from his father and the estates of his mother Diana and the Queen Mother. His net worth is put at £30million. Meghan’s is said to be about £4million.
Tiered rose gardens, tall Italian cypress trees, blooming lavender and century-old olive trees all feature in the gardens, alongside a tennis court, spa with separate dry and wet saunas and five-car garage.
The previous owner had a pink princess-themed bedroom, stripper pole and arcade game installed although it is thought the Sussexes have redecorated.
The property also boasts a two-bed, two-bath guest house, perfect for Meghan’s mother Doria, who is said to have been among the first guests to visit the new home.
The exclusive community boasts a number of good schools, as well as A-lister neighbours. Meghan, 39, is said to have described the property as their ‘sanctuary’ while Harry, 35, is said to be so relaxed he is walking around unshaven in shorts and T-shirts.
A source told The Sun: ‘Meghan wanted somewhere with a spectacular garden and the house has a giant pool and pond for them to enjoy.
‘She has been speaking about getting an easel to sit outside and paint during quiet moments. Harry seems a lot more relaxed, he’s walking around the house in shorts and a T-shirt, unshaven and is friendly with the staff, they think he’s adorable.
‘He is particularly relaxed now they have a full security team and he’s talked about how impressed he is by the team, who are former LAPD and ex-servicemen.’
Former Daily Mail royal correspondent Richard Mineards, now society correspondent for the Montecito Journal, said: ‘I’ve been predicting for months that Harry would come here because polo will be one of the attractions.
‘This is a rarefied enclave and we’re used to celebrities here. We treat them with deference. It’s the perfect place to raise Archie, and Meghan seems to like the bohemian lifestyle, so she’ll enjoy it here.
‘As they integrate slowly into the community, everyone will want to meet them, of course, but it won’t be tug of the forelock stuff – we’ll give them their space.’
Tim Pinkevich, who works for Grishin and signed off on the sale of the property for him, last night told the Mail that he could not talk about the sale because he had signed a confidentiality agreement.
What about settling the bill at Frogmore?
The couple have agreed to repay the £2.4million spent doing up Frogmore Cottage
Harry and Meghan are under pressure to pay back taxpayers’ money spent renovating their UK base after it emerged they had splashed out on their California mansion.
The couple have agreed to repay the £2.4million spent doing up Frogmore Cottage after facing criticism over the cost of renovations there before they fled.
They have agreed to pay the taxpayer £18,000 a month.
But at that rate, it will take them 11 years to clear the debt – yet they have reportedly managed to find £3million to put down as a deposit on the new Santa Barbara chateau.
Former Home Office minister Norman Baker, author of And What Do You Do? What The Royal Family Don’t Want You To Know, accused the couple of ‘taking the taxpayer for a ride’.
‘The fact he is living over there is up to him, but he shouldn’t be getting money from the taxpayer,’ he said. ‘We are still paying for Frogmore, that is their base in the UK.’ Joe Little of Majesty magazine said it was good the couple ‘are now in a property that they own and they are not seen to be freeloading in a way they were perceived to have been doing’.
Ex-wife claims she was threatened by owner of house Prince Harry has bought… but tycoon says it’s all a lie and that SHE is trying to defraud HIM
By Alison Boshoff for the Daily Mail
The proud owner of a Kalashnikov rifle which he boasts has been signed by its inventor, Sergey Grishin enjoys minor notoriety in his native Russia.
Unabashed, he has claimed that he ‘practically brought the Russian banking system to collapse’ in the 1990s by committing ‘the largest bank fraud scheme ever’, worth up to $60billion (£46billion).
So today he is likely to be revelling in his new-found fame in the West as the man who sold the Duke and Duchess of Sussex their first California home.
Records show that Grishin, a heavy-set, greying figure who has lived in Santa Barbara for ten years, sold the Montecito property at an estimated $10million loss, which may have something to do with the legal action he faces from his former wife.
The billionaire oligarch, 54, who is notorious for admitting money laundering, faces allegations that he held a gun to his estranged wife’s head and knocked out her teeth in a ‘violent rampage of domestic violence’.
Pictured: The Duchess of Sussex visiting the organisation Justice For Girls in Canada
His ex-wife Anna Fedoseeva and her friend and business partner Jennifer Sulkess are seeking $125million in damages, accusing him of assault, battery, extortion, domestic violence, invasion of privacy and cyberstalking.
Grishin, who has shared a mystery photo online of his own bloodied face, is scheduled to go on trial in October.
From Moscow, Miss Fedoseeva said last night: ‘I am in fear of my life and the safety of my loved ones. He is 100 per cent still very dangerous and is on a road of war with me.’
Both women have successfully sought restraining orders against him, amid claims of death threats and the hiring of hitmen.
In one text message, he allegedly told his wife that he would cut her up ‘piece by piece from the tail until I reach your head’, adding: ‘THAT’S WHAT WILL HAPPEN.’
Grishin and his wife lived in the Santa Barbara house until the middle of 2017 when they relocated to central Los Angeles. Their marriage fell apart in January 2018 and the threats soon began.
The oligarch is notorious for his part in the so-called ‘Russian Laundromat’ which may have netted him up to $60billion. He has an apartment at the Century Tower in Los Angeles, where Steve Bing, Liz Hurley’s former boyfriend, killed himself in June.
The home was built in 2003. The estate has sweeping lawns, tiered rose gardens, tall Italian cypress trees, blooming lavender, century old olive trees, a tennis court, tea house, children’s cottage and a pool
A spokesman for Grishin (pictured) has said that he is ‘the unfortunate victim of a fraud’
Grishin’s ex-wife said last night of the news that Harry and Meghan had bought their former marital home: ‘It was a crazy shock to hear that they have bought the house.
‘It’s a lot of money to give to someone, not like buying a car, and I would have thought they would look at who was involved. I could hardly believe it.’
Miss Sulkess told the Mail: ‘I really cannot believe that of all the people in the world they could have bought a house from, they bought it from him. He is a monster.
‘It is astonishing to me that nobody would have checked his name out – even just for five minutes on the internet. A simple search on Google will throw up our case against him and the horrific abuse. He is in every sense a man who abuses women, and Meghan is someone who advocates for women.’
Grishin, who began his career selling cookies and hot dogs that he baked, was the chairman of Rosevrobank when it was at the centre of the Russian Laundromat scandal.
The International Centre for the Study of Corruption and Organised Crime, a consortium of international journalists, alleges that Rosevrobank laundered Russian money through Moldova and Latvia using fictitious loan agreements between shell companies. Up to $20billion is said to have been laundered in this way.
Grishin and his ex-wife (pictured together) lived in the Santa Barbara house until the middle of 2017 when they relocated to central Los Angeles
Grishin sold his stake in Rosevrobank in November 2018, years after the scandal. It was at about this time that he uploaded now notorious videos to YouTube. In them he claimed further larceny. He said: ‘I’m going to tell you how one person – that is, I – practically brought the Russian banking system to a collapse in the 1990s.’
In the since-deleted video he says: ‘I invented it. I stole a lot in Estonia and Russia. It was the largest fraud scheme, because no one knew exactly how much money was stolen.’
The scheme worked via fake advice notes, telling banks ‘officially’ that money had been transferred. It would take up to a month for the bank to discover that the note was a fake, by which time the funds had been moved elsewhere. Estimates suggest that four trillion rubles (£42billion) was lost in this way.
In a second video he boasted that he ‘robbed the banking system of Russia for the second time’ by using disappearing ink to write cheques.
He also appealed to President Donald Trump to grant him US citizenship. He owned two Santa Barbara houses, one known as the ‘Scarface estate’ as it was used to shoot some scenes for the 1983 Al Pacino film.
Grishin married Miss Fedoseeva in 2017. The couple were introduced by mutual friends in 2015.
She said: ‘We had friends in common. He asked them if I wanted to date him as he was single. My relationship had ended and I thought why not have a dinner.’
At first the romance was ‘good’. But the marriage crashed in January 2018 after he accessed her password-protected computer. Here he found ‘innocent selfies’ of Anna with Miss Sulkess.
Miss Sulkess, a former PA to the actress Kate Bosworth, had set up a film company, 12 Productions Limited, with Miss Fedoseeva and they were making a film together.
According to court documents, Sergey became ‘insane with jealousy over the friendship’ and filed for divorce the following month.
Court documents allege that he started to threaten both women and demand that Miss Sulkess leave the film company.
One text to his wife, sent on February 27 that year, ran: ‘Are you familiar with the concept of operation without a budget? This is the worst that can happen to a person opposed by a clever, inventive, insidious enemy. It’s not my choice, you got me there. Enjoy it.’
The following day he told her: ‘All your life and the lives of all your loved ones are at stake now.’
The following week he referred to himself as a ‘killing machine.’
He added that his first wife had been admitted to an ‘insane asylum’ four times.
Both women were afraid, and Miss Sulkess said she was told he would seek to bankrupt her if she didn’t leave the film company. Miss Fedoseeva released her from her position.
Sergey next asked Anna to pay him back all the money he had given her, and return all watches and jewellery. In a court filing, she said he texted her a picture of a Glock gun and said he had a 15-round clip of bullets: ’13 for you and two in any case for me.’
Pictured: The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, who have moved to a Santa Barbara neighbourhood
Another long text allegedly talked about using special bullets so she would have to be buried in a closed casket, and suggested that he would film her murder and stream it live on Instagram and YouTube.
‘Imagine how beautiful it would be,’ he allegedly taunted.
The court papers also state that on June 3, 2018, he invited Miss Fedoseeva to meet him at their Moscow apartment, saying that a third party would be present and promising he meant her no harm.
According to her court filing, once inside he pulled out a gun with a silencer, told her he was going to kill her, and ordered her to strip naked.
There was then allegedly a fight in which she grabbed the silencer and he punched her in the face before head butting her, cracking her teeth. She fled to a neighbouring apartment and raised the alarm, filing a report with police and being treated in hospital.
A text the following day from Sergey told her that a doctor would be able to fix her with a ‘new Hollywood smile’.
On June 19, Anna and Jennifer took out temporary restraining orders against him, and Sergey was ordered to surrender his weapons.
The claimed harassment continued, with him allegedly sending pornographic and violent videos and setting up fake websites and social media accounts for the women.
Perhaps the most chilling evidence presented by the two women is the alleged ‘hitman’ audio where he records himself saying that he wants to ‘get rid of some people’ at a cost of 1million euros (£900,000) per head.
The alleged hour and a half audio, in Russian, was sent to Miss Fedoseeva’s mother.
In November 2018, Anna was arrested in Moscow and jailed after Sergey told authorities that she had defrauded him of 80million rubles (£840,000). After ten days, the charges were dropped and she was released.
Anna is seeking punitive damages of up to $75million (£57million) and Jennifer up to $50million. Both accuse him of malicious and oppressive conduct and say that thy are greatly traumatised. Miss Fedoseeva says: ‘It is not about the money. I have no need of money.
‘We have a trial in October. I also have a court date against him in Russia to settle the divorce.’
She received compensation from the Russian government over being falsely accused and imprisoned a year ago.
Sergey has hit back, suing the two women for $564,000 (£430,000), money he says he spent funding their film company and production. Anna says the money was a gift during the marriage and cited a text from Sergey saying: ‘There will be counterfeit lawsuits, under other clauses. Don’t forget that. Are you going to fight with me?’
He has also sued Miss Sulkess for defamation after she reposted the YouTube videos in which he boasted of banking fraud. That action has been dismissed.
A further legal action involves his former fiancee Catherine Loginova. He has accused her of fraud. She says that he has issued death threats and is mentally ill, claiming that he has ‘three people’ inside him.
Miss Sulkess said yesterday: ‘It is a fight for survival. I have never experienced anything like this, this has been a surreal couple of years.’
A spokesman for Mr Grishin said last night: ‘Mr Grishin is the unfortunate victim of a fraud perpetrated by his former wife Anna Fedoseeva in respect of which he has been obliged to file legal proceedings against her.
‘His legal claim sets out that fewer than two months after their marriage, Miss Fedoseeva became romantically involved with another woman and thereafter entered into a scheme to defraud him out of millions of dollars to finance her and her lover’s lifestyles.
‘When that fraudulent scheme failed, Miss Fedoseeva made a series of false and highly defamatory allegations about Mr Grishin – including of physical threats and violence – which are utterly fanciful, hotly denied and have no basis in truth whatever, and which Mr Grishin trusts will be proven to be entirely false when the matter comes before the court.’