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New Yorker Profile Depicts Dasha Zhukova, Pop Magazine Editor and Girlfriend of Billionaire Roman Abramovich, as Press Evasive

In a Time of Media Hounds, Dasha Zhukova Goes Out of Her Way to Avoid Press


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not brimming with quotes and opinions from Pop editor Dasha Zhukova? The New Yorker's Sept. 27 issue profiles woman-of-few-words Zhukova and explores her relationship with Russian oil billionaire Roman Abramovich, which blossomed while Abramovich was still married to his second wife with whom he had five children (although at the time, Abramovich's spokesman called Zhukova nothing more than "a family friend").

Since, The New Yorker's Julia Ioffe writes, "The pair" — who have a 9-month-old son together — "has kept a low profile. Abramovich, notoriously press-shy, has found a good partner in Zhukova. She will not discuss how they met, or even if they are married. In public, the couple barely interact, floating past each other without words or eye contact. Her press corps rivals his in obstructiveness and obfuscation. She gives few interviews, and when she does, her answers are studies in evasion. When I asked her about her recent art acquisitions — since becoming involved with Zhukova, Abramovich is said to have spent record amounts on paintings by Lucian Freud and Francis Bacon — her airy Southern California drawl turned to lead. 'I don't really talk about the collecting,' she said, and then, as if by way of explanation, added, 'it's something that's quite personal and doesn't involve just me.'"

Ioffe continues: "It's tempting to suppose that such vagueness betrays a neophyte's lack of confidence, and a wariness about being portrayed as a rich dilettante. But Zhukova's almost virtuosic uncommunicativeness seems to apply to all areas of her life, and her infinite unquotability has earned her a kind of fame among journalists. At a fashion show, a reporter for Women's Wear Daily asked her what she thought of the clothes. Zhukova responded, 'I liked them, but that's off the record.'"

While at a June art opening Zhukova was hosting at her Garage Center for Contemporary Culture in Moscow, Ioffe notes: "Periodically, she collapsed on the gray couches, looking like a sullen child, and searched her purse for a pack of cigarettes. (Abramovich disapproves of the habit, and Zhukova denies that she smokes.) She was tired of having a reporter follow her around all day. 'Do you always have to have that tape recorder out?' she asked. She developed a makeshift way of going off the record, covering her mouth and whispering to her friends." And: "At one point in the evening, I came across Abramovich as he wandered into the room with the MOMA exhibit. He walked slowly around, chewing on gum and staring blankly at the works. When I approached him and mentioned that I was writing about Zhukova, she leaped up from a nearby sofa and sprinted over on six-inch Louboutin heels. 'Can I talk to you for a minute?' she said to Abramovich, in Russian, and, grabbing him by the arm, led him quickly across the room and out the door."

"Ultimately," Ioffe concludes, "Perhaps Zhukova doesn't speak much because she understands that her money and connections speak for themselves."

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