Billionaire watches Beitar at home — his home
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Business mogul Telman Ismailov
He is the Russian Jewish business mogul worth an estimated $2 billion, who gave Jennifer Lopez $1.4 million to appear for 10 minutes at his birthday party.
On Tuesday, Telman Ismailov flew the entire Beitar Jerusalem football team to Grozny in Chechnya to play local side Terek Grozny, so he could have a close look at them before deciding whether to buy them.
The trip ignored a warning by the Israeli National Security Council not to visit Chechnya, where Islamist militants remain following a long and bloody civil war.
Mr Ismailov is on friendly terms with Arkady Gaydamak, the current owner of Beitar (whose fans regularly chant anti-Arab slogans), which has been struggling financially in recent years.
During the visit, Beitar players and staff were due to attend several ceremonies with the local Jewish community, including the placement of a cornerstone for a new synagogue built on the site of Grozny’s 19th century Ashkenazi synagogue, which was destroyed during the first Chechen war in the mid-1990s.
Beitar’s chairman, Itzik Korenfein, said that one purpose of the visit was to strengthen relations between Jerusalem — represented by the team — and the Jewish community in Chechnya. He added that he hoped to raise at least $1 million from the local community in support of Beitar.
Mr Ismailov was born in 1956 in Baku, Azerbaijan, to one of the country’s best-known and wealthiest families.
He is known for holding extraordinary parties. Among his friends he counts celebrities such as Sharon Stone, Richard Gere and Paris Hilton.