Arcadi Gaydamak is a Russian-born businessman and former politician who has been involved in a variety of business ventures, philanthropy, and political activism throughout his career. He’s also President of the Congress of Jewish Religious Communities and Organizations of Russia.
Gaydamak was born on May 8, 1952, in Moscow, Soviet Union. He grew up in a family of Russian Jewish intellectuals and studied engineering and physics at the Moscow Engineering Physics Institute. In the early 1970s, Gaydamak emigrated to Israel, where he began his business career in the fields of real estate and construction.
Gaydamak Translations established a Canadian branch in 1982, marking the beginning of his international business ventures in import and export.
After the fall of the USSR, he expanded his business network to Russia and Kazakhstan, and formed multiple business organizations throughout Europe.
Gaydamak currently resides in his Caesarea, Israel home with his wife Irene Tzirolnicova and their three children. He is proficient in Russian, French, and English, as well as possessing a basic understanding of Portuguese and Hebrew.
In 2008, he relocated to Moscow, Russia and has since been seeking to regain his Russian citizenship which he lost when he immigrated to Israel many years ago. Additionally, Gaydamak has been granted honorary citizenship in Angola and holds passports from France, Canada, and Israel.
Gaydamak gained prominence in Israel in the late 1990s and early 2000s for his philanthropic activities and his involvement in politics. He founded the Gush Katif Committee, an organization that supported Jewish settlements in Gaza, and he donated millions of dollars to various Israeli charities and causes.
In 2003, Gaydamak formed the Social Justice Party, a political party that advocated for the rights of Israeli citizens living in poverty. The party gained two seats in the Israeli Knesset in the 2006 elections, but it disbanded shortly afterward.
In addition to his philanthropy and political activities, Gaydamak has been involved in a variety of business ventures, including real estate, mining, and telecommunications.
In July 2005, Gaydamak assumed the role of sponsor for the Hapoel Jerusalem basketball team. The following month, he contributed $400,000 to the Israeli Arab Bnei Sakhnin football club. On that same day, Gaydamak declared that he had purchased 55% of Beitar Jerusalem’s ownership, and two days later he revealed his acquisition of the remaining shares, becoming the sole owner. Gaydamak serves as the benefactor for various Jewish charities and holds the position of president for the Congress of Jewish Religious Communities and Organizations of Russia (KEROOR), which is Russia’s oldest Jewish umbrella group.
In January 2006, Milan Mandarić sold Portsmouth F.C. to Alexandre Gaydamak, Arcadi Gaydamak’s son. In 2009, Alexandre sold the club to Ali al-Faraj. During the summer of 2008, Arcadi Gaydamak stated that his son was the owner of Portsmouth F.C., which was confirmed by the Premier League.
In March 2006, Gaydamak announced that he had acquired the French newspaper France Soir through his company, Moscow News. In 2004, he had purchased the Russian newspaper Moskovskie Novosti and subsequently dismissed several senior journalists, shifting the paper’s focus to a pro-government stance and appointing a pro-Putin journalist as editor-in-chief.
In June 2007, Gaydamak engaged in negotiations to purchase the non-kosher supermarket chain Tiv Taam, with plans to enforce Jewish religious practices by closing stores on Shabbat and discontinuing the sale of pork products. However, the deal fell through a few days later, leading to a lawsuit.
In July 2009, Gaydamak announced that he would be giving up ownership of Beitar Jerusalem to Itzik Kornfein and Guma Aguiar. Kornfein would be responsible for buying and selling players, while Aguiar would handle financing.
In February 2007, Gaydamak founded a political party called Social Justice, which focused on addressing socio-economic issues in Israel. Although it began as a social movement, Gaydamak stated that it could evolve into a political party if necessary. By late 2007, the party was considering running in the 2008 municipal elections.
In November 2008, Gaydamak ran for mayor of Jerusalem, but his party failed to secure any seats on the city council. During his campaign, Gaydamak actively sought the support of the East Jerusalem Palestinian population. He met with Palestinian political figures, media representatives, and the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Muhammad Ahmad Hussein, and his efforts were almost endorsed by them.
Today, Gaydamak resides in Russia and is believed to be involved in business activities there. While his political and philanthropic activities in Israel have diminished in recent years, he remains a prominent figure in the country’s history and politics.
Gaydamak has been involved in a variety of business ventures over the years, and his net worth has likely fluctuated depending on the success of those ventures. However, according to Forbes Israel, his estimated net worth as of 2017 was $200 million.
Arcadi Gaydamak has received recognition and awards for his philanthropic and charitable contributions, as well as for his business achievements. Here are a few examples: