Say what you will about Prokhorov, but the Russian ex-pat and Nets owner has dramatically changed Brooklyn culture following the move of his basketball team to the Barclays Center. We don’t mean that the addition of a professional sports team has changed the face of Brooklyn so much (although it is nice to have a home team again, isn’t it?), rather that, in the Barclays Center, Brooklyn now has a performance arena to rival any in Manhattan. Suddenly, big musical acts are coming to Flatbush Avenue and bypassing Madison Square Garden entirely. And, sure, we wouldn’t call the MTV VMAs high culture exactly, but it was pretty cool that the most-talked about VMAs in years (thanks, Miley) took place right here in BK.
Mikhail Prokhorov has been, by turns, banker, athlete, metals mogul, playboy, investor, media player, politician, NBA owner (the Brooklyn Nets) and now, again, politician. He rocked Russia when he jumped into its 2012 presidential race against strongman Vladimir Putin. No one expected him to win but he managed to get 8% of the vote, even though he ran an unexceptional campaign. (He did, however, rap on TV, perhaps suggesting that some of his friendship with Jay-Z is rubbing off). While the 6-foot-8-inch bachelor and martial arts enthusiast moved the Nets to a new arena in Brooklyn's Atlantic Yards, and often jets in to watch a game, he has no plans to settle in the U.S. He insists that his serious interest is Russian politics, and he has created a new party, the Civic Platform, that he intends to expand until it's strong enough to go head-to-head with Putin's United Russia. He has the money to see it through. In late February 2013 he sold his 37.8% share of Polyus Gold International Ltd. for $3.6 billion. He's still in acquisition mode. In December 2013 he bought a 27% stake in Uralkali, the world's biggest producer of potassium fertilizers, from billionaire Suleiman Kerimov and other shareholders.Actually, he doesn't often jet in to watch a game. As for his source of wealth, surely "investments" can be credited, but "self-made" deserves a wee small asterisk.