This Is How Much Money Volodymyr Zelensky Is Actually Worth

Volodymyr Zelensky is the president of Ukraine, a comedian, and a media production businessman, who has a net worth of several million dollars — speculation spans from $1 million to staggering $900 million.

Enjoying a comfortable middle-class childhood, Zelensky studied to be a lawyer but fell in love with comedy instead — approximately at the same time he fell in love with his future wife, Olena Zelenska. Zelensky, Zelenska, and friends produced live comedy shows while traveling widely across Ukraine and former Soviet Countries. Soon after, they founded Kvartal 95, a production company which soon became a success. Creating TV shows, films, and other entertainment, they created "Servant of the People" show in 2015, which became a decisive moment of Zelensky's future career. Performing as a teacher who accidentally becomes a Ukrainian president, Zelensky got heavily involved in the role, to the point he decided to run for the presidency in real life. Out of Kvartal 95, a new political party, named after the TV show, swept the Ukrainian public. Zelensky left his career as an entertainer and stepped into national and international politics, surrounded by his colleagues from show business. While fighting against the corruption in the country, he founded several offshore companies and made connections with various oligarchs, one especially.

This is how much money Volodymyr Zelensky is actually worth.

His grandfather fought for the Red Army

Volodymyr Zelensky's family history reveals strong Jewish heritage, as his grandparents were Jews, experiencing the horrors of Nazism in World War II. His grandfather battled on the side of the Red Army, while his grandmother fled to Kazakhstan, returning only after the war. Zelensky himself described his family as "an ordinary Soviet Jewish family," while talking to David Horovitz for The Times of Israel.

Zelensky himself was born in 1978 in Krivoy Rog, an industrial town in South Ukraine, but he spent four years in Erdenet in Mongolia, following his father's job posting. His parents, Rymma Zelenska and Oleksandr Zelensky, are both well-educated engineers. His father is a professor at the Krivoy Rog Institute of Economics, but also the head of cybernetics and computing hardware. The Zelensky family lived a comfortable middle-class lifestyle, and Volodymyr enjoyed many after school activities, including piano lessons and various sports. But, as emphasised by Hossein Sadre for Europe Diplomatic, Zelensky's wealth was created by himself, as he didn't have any family among the rich and the powerful.

He studied law but became a comedian instead

Despite Volodymyr Zelensky's degree in law, completed at the Krivoy Rog Institute of Economics, his career took a different route. He became a comedian instead, winning his first televised comedy competition, KVN, in 1997. Per Europe Diplomatic, around the same time, Zelensky formed Kvartal 95 — a comedy team of friends who entertained people on TV screens and in person, traveling around the countries of the former Soviet Union. 

Zelensky's career quickly evolved into other areas aside from purely comedy, though, with him performing in several movies and TV shows, for some of which he wrote the screenplay himself. Zelensky's deep voice became the Ukrainian voice of Paddington Bear in the movies "Paddington" and "Paddington 2," which released in 2014 and 2017, repsectively. He even proved that he can dance well by winning the Ukrainian version of "Dancing With the Stars" in 2006, reports Jamie Burton for Newsweek

He owns a production company

After the initial success of the Kvartal 95 comedy group, Volodymyr Zelensky and his co-comedians decided to go a step further (via Europe Diplomatic); they've created a real business out of it, a production company. Zelensky took position as co-founder and creative producer, emphasizing their desire to make the world a better place: "Our ambitious objective ... is to make the world a better place, a kinder and more joyful place with help of those tools that we have, that is humor and creativity. We are moving towards this goal, trying to conquer the whole world, of course." 

The Kvartal 95 company was established in 2003, quickly developing into one of the most successful production houses in the country, focusing on the production of various TV programs, series, films, and even animation projects. According to Kvartal 95, the company continuously produces material which tops the rankings in showbusiness, such as the "Vecherniy Kvartal" TV show — "the most popular entertainment project on Ukrainian TV" — but also comedy series like "The In-Laws" and even the first 3D movie in Ukraine, "Rzhevskiy vs Napoleon." Forbes Magazine lists the company among the most successful companies in Ukraine, assessing the company's income at £11 million in 2012 (via The Sun).

He was the 'Servant of the People' on TV first

While many seriously question whether there is any difference between politics and entertainment shows, Volodymyr Zelensky found himself right in the gray zone between the two, when he started to transform into political characters: "I started out making fun of politicians, parodying them, and, in so doing, showing what kind of Ukraine I would like to see. And then came this series, in which I could play such a President. O.K., so I couldn't actually be the President, but I could play him ... and at some point, I understood there was a chance. These feelings accumulated in me to the point of spilling over — which coincided with things accumulating and spilling over for the Ukrainian people, too," he told Joshua Yaffa for The New Yorker.

In 2015, "Servant of the People" was born. The TV series follows a young history teacher, Vasyl Petrovych Holoborodko, who hates corruption. When his raging about the corruption in politics goes viral, Ukrainians crowdfund his presidential campaign, leading him to victory. He doesn't know how to act in high circles but wins people over with his strong morals and congeniality. The show was a success, lasting until 2019, and is also available on Netflix, explains Emily Nussbaum

From television to the presidential palace

The financial success of the Kvartal 95 company and its projects soon spilled over the edge of the entertainment business into national (and later international) politics. While the TV series was gaining wide recognition in the country, Volodymyr Zelensky and Kvartal 95 had another idea — they established a new political party in 2018, calling it Servant of the People. It took Zelensky only a year to step through the threshold of the Ukrainian presidential palace as a real president, explains Emily Nussbaum for The New Yorker.

Throughout his presidential campaign, Zelensky was supported by many people from the show business, using the power of media for his own advantage. As per Ukrainian news outlet Ukrainska Pravda, not all members of his presidential campaign team were revealed to the public. One is Andriy Bogdan, the lawyer of the infamous Ukrainian oligarch Igor Kolomoisky, who worked as a mediator between Zelensky and the oligarch. Another is lawyer Serhiy Nyzhny and his company Hillmont Partners, a firm which has a long history of collaborating with Kvartal 95. Furthermore, brothers Serhiy and Borys Shefiry, Ukrainian film moguls, also took part in the campaign.

After winning the presidential position, Zelensky filled the positions around him with people he knew well — people from the entertainment industry. Bogdan, Kolomoisky's lawyer (and former Ukrainian commissioner for anti-corruption policy), became Head of the Presidential Administration. Former executive producer of the Kvartal 95 studio, Sergei Trofimov, became First Deputy Head of the AP, while Serhiy Shefir, one of the founders of Kvartal 95, took the position of First Aide to the President. Even the screenwriter of "Servant of the People," Yuriy Kostyuk, got the job as Deputy Head of the AP, reports Ukrainska Pravda.

He is on a de-oligarchization mission

One of the biggest problems Ukraine has is a high level of corruption, firmly tying politics with oligarchy. Volodymyr Zelensky's main focus during his presidential campaign was his promises of tackling corruption, the same as his TV character in "Servant of the People." The Ukrainian public responded to his promises, showing much desire to strip the country from the oligarchs' claws.

There is a list of connections between Zelensky and certain individuals, which led some to doubt his real motives. The most suspicious one is his closeness with oligarch Ihor Kolomoisky, a relationship that developed in 2012, the same year Zelensky founded his offshore companies. A production deal between Kvartal 95 and 1+1 Group, owned by Kolomoisky, enabled Zelensky and Kvartal 95 to gain a wider distribution for their shows, since Kolomoisky owns one of the biggest TV channels in the country.

According to Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP), the 2021 leakage of the Pandora Papers, documents which uncovered offshore international financial currents and connections, revealed Zelensky's name, but also names of his colleagues. One of the companies connected to Maltex (a company which Zelensky had holdings in) received $1.2 million in 2013 from another offshore company, which was connected to Kolomoisky's 1+1 Group. The sum was paid in form of licensing fees for the show "Make a Comedian Laugh." Gimentiano Holdings Ltd, owned by Zelensky's friend, also accepted $750,000 to its Cyprus bank account, opened at Kolomoisky's Privatbank, from SVT Films Ltd., another Ukrainian production company.

Some of Zelensky's companies are ... offshore

As per OCCRP and the Pandora Papers, Volodymyr Zelensky and his colleagues from Kvartal 95 company set up a string of offshore companies back in 2012, based in Belize, Cyprus, and the British Virgin Islands. The Sherif brothers, mostly Serhiy Sherif, also a secret member of Zelensky's presidential campaign, were included in the offshore chain. While Zelensky transferred his shares in these offshore companies in 2019, during the presidential election, he didn't abandon the lucrative profits. It is believed Sherif and Zelensky made some kind of deal to enable Zelensky and his family to continue to collect money from tax oases.

As per The Guardian, a complicated set of shareholders and straw companies are usually a core of every offshore business, as in the case of Zelensky and his colleagues. Zelensky owned Film Heritage company with his wife Olena Zelenska, but omitted the fact that the company, registered in Belize, also had stocks in Davegra, a holding company from Cyprus. Davegra owns Maltex Multicapital Corp, registered in the British Virgin Islands, which makes Zelensky, the Sherif brothers, and Ivan Bakanov, Head of Security Service of Ukraine, owners of Maltex Multicapital Corp, by each owning 25% share.

The offshore companies bought properties in London

Volodymyr Zelensky's involvement in Maltex Multicapital Corp made him indirectly a part of the property deal Borys Shefir and other shareholders in Kvartal 95 made in the United Kingdom between 2014 and 2016. Shefir, a part-owner in Maltex Multicapital Corp, bought two luxury properties in central London through his company SHSN Limited, registered in Belize, reports OCCRP. One was a three-bedroom apartment on Glentworth Street, and the other was a smaller, two-bedroom apartment at Baker Street, a notorious neighborhood filled with foreign buyers, mostly buying through offshore companies. Both apartments together were worth nearly $6 million.

But Shefir wasn't the only person near Zelensky who decided he would like a piece of London's booming property market — after all, the house prices in London rose for more than a fourth since 2014. Andreii Iakovlev, a shareholder in Kvartal 95 company, purchased an apartment in 2015 in the Westminster Palace Gardens building, worth $2.3 million at the time.

He got caught between two forces

Volodymyr Zelensky's determination to cleanse the country of the oligarchs and their influence didn't impress only Ukrainians, but also international political players. The anti-oligarchy plan is strongly supported by the U.S. government and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), while the Ukrainian NATO membership candidature is linked directly to resolution of the corruption in the country, reports The Washington Post.

Zelensky and his office came up with the new legislation which would target issues of oligarchy through establishing a register of oligarchs — defined as people who have political power, media ownership, market monopolies, and a minimum of $100 million in assets. The registered oligarchs will be obliged to declare their wealth and refrain from privatizations and connections with political parties.

But, according to The Atlantic, Zelensky's close companion and not-so-secret financial supporter, Igor Kolomoisky, is on the list of people who needs to contain their oligarchic activities. In 2019, the IMF demanded that Zelensky force Kolomoisky to pay back the money he is accused of taking from his PrivatBank. If Zelensky didn't succeed, the IMF wouldn't lend Ukraine the billions of dollars it had promised. Kolomoisky believed Zelensky should protect him from the IMF and was surprised at his friend's lack of loyalty.

His wife works for him

Volodymyr Zelensky is married to a beautiful lady, Olena Zelenska, who is a successful woman herself and one of the most influential women in Ukraine, according to Tatler. An architect by education but a screenwriter by profession, she is a part of Kvartal 95 and its success. Zelenska met Zelensky when they both studied at Kryvyi Rih National University, and she soon joined Kvartal comedy troupe as a writer. While she wasn't excited by Zelensky's idea to run for the presidency, she soon changed her mind and supported her husband fully.

Per The Guardian, Zelenska is also involved in Zelensky's offshore business, as the sole owner of the Film Heritage company, which was taken over by Maltex Multicapital Corp, another offshore company, partly owned by Zelensky. While Zelensky officially cut his ties with these companies in 2019, Zelenska is still eligible for dividends as Film Heritage's owner.

Zelenska also declared quite a few luxury items at the time of Zelensky's presidential financial declaration, according to UNIAN (Ukrainian Independent News Agency of News) and Heavy. She owns two apartments, one in Crimea (the part of Ukraine annexed by Russia) and one in Kyiv. She drives a Mercedes-Benz and adorns herself with Graff diamond jewelry and accessories, such as watches by Piaget, Bovet, and Breguet.

He owns a villa in Tuscany

During his presidential declaration in 2018, Volodymyr Zelensky confirmed ownership of an Italian villa, worth €3.1 million at the time. Zelensky and Olena Zelenska bought the villa in 2015, through Italian company San Tommaso SRL, which is itself owned by Zelenska. The villa spans over 413 square meters in the Tuscan resort Forte dei Marmi, right in the Ligurian Sea. The resort is well known among Russian and Ukrainian elite who call it Beach Courchevel, and it offers a Mediterranean mix of jogging and cycling tracks, trendy restaurants, and bars, all along one of the best beaches in Italy. The villa has two floors, a pool, garden, and a terrace, six bedrooms, six bathrooms, a spa center with sauna and jacuzzi, a gym, and apartments for staff.

In 2021, the Zelensky couple decided to sell the house, listing it for €4.5 million: "For the last three years, the estate, which is located just 400 meters from the sea, has been rented for 12 thousand euros per month. Now it is rented by a US citizen with his family. They have been living there since July, but should leave in early October," confirmed the property agent, as reported by Global Happenings. According to Zelensky, the Italian property was bought "because of the imperfect banking system in Ukraine."