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A “BESOTTED” Prince Andrew struck up a close friend­ship with a glam­orous Kazakh heiress who took him wolf hunt­ing, intro­duced him to the son of Libyan dic­ta­tor Colonel Gaddafi, and helped find a buy­er for his unloved Sunninghill Park home.

Goga Ashkenazi, the oil tycoon-turned-fash­ion boss, has been one of the Duke of York‘s staunchest apol­o­gists in recent years.‘Besotted’ Prince Andrew with Goga AshkenaziThe Kazakh socialite and oil tycoon alleged­ly caught the eye of the Duke of York

A keen hunter, Goga alleged­ly took Andrew hunting

In 2007, the Oxford-edu­cat­ed Goga helped Andrew sell his and Fergie’s unloved Sunninghill Park house for £15m, £3m more than the ask­ing price.

And in 2011, he turned to the glam dark-haired beau­ty as he faced los­ing his posi­tion as Britain’s rov­ing trade ambassador. 

The year before, he sat by her side as she cel­e­brat­ed her 30th birth­day with a lav­ish par­ty at Tyringham Hall in Buckinghamshire along­side 260 of her clos­est pals.

Her star-stud­ded par­ty fea­tured fire-eaters, a girl swing­ing from a trapeze pour­ing vod­ka into ice sculp­tures shaped like naked tor­sos, and a huge pro­ject­ed image of her face on the wall of the manor.

Andrew sat at the top table, wel­comed by Goga as “my very, very close friend”. A week lat­er, he returned the com­pli­ment by invit­ing her and a bevy of glam­orous women to his mile­stone 50th birth­day at St James’s Palace.

Born in 1980 in the south­ern Kazakh city of Taraz, then part of the Soviet Union, to an oil engi­neer, her and Andrew’s worlds seemed unlike­ly to collide.

But at a New Year’s Eve par­ty in Phuket, Thailand, in 2001, the then-20-year-old Goga was intro­duced to the prince and the pair stayed in touch.

That same Thailand hol­i­day was noto­ri­ous­ly when Andrew was pic­tured with top­less women on a yacht and par­tied in red-light dis­trict bars with Jeffrey Epstein.

From the begin­ning, Andrew was report­ed to be “besot­ted” with Goga, and in 2008, the pair were seen enjoy­ing a three-hour din­ner togeth­er in Ascot, where the Queen‘s favourite son had already intro­duced her to his mother.

Goga’s mete­oric rise from the far-flung out­crops of the USSR to hob­nob­bing with the Royal Family is tru­ly breathtaking.

Her father became a mem­ber of the Central Committee of the Communist Party and moved the fam­i­ly to Moscow, and when the Soviet Union final­ly col­lapsed in 1991, they became extreme­ly wealthy in the new­ly-inde­pen­dent Kazakhstan.

Wanting the best for their daugh­ter, Goga’s par­ents sent her to board­ing school in England, where she was sus­pend­ed after being caught kiss­ing a boy in her room.

She went to the pres­ti­gious Rugby School to do her A lev­els and earned a place at the University of Oxford to study his­to­ry and economics.

Here, by her own admis­sion, she pri­ori­tised par­ty­ing over study­ing and spent many of her week­ends club­bing in London with her then-boyfriend Dino Lalvani.

We used to go to Chinawhite every Wednesday – it was like a reli­gion,” she said in 2010.

Goga and the tele­com tycoon Dino met at London’s Tramp club, where, by her own accounts, she was a heartbreaker.

That night Dino was with a date, a very famous mod­el,” Goga told W Magazine in 2011. “He just total­ly switched from her to me. She was like, ‘Dino, I want to go home!’ and he was like, ‘Okay, the dri­ver is upstairs. Bye!’”

Goga moved on from Dino after he went to super­mod­el Naomi Campbell’s 30th birth­day with­out her.

She had already attract­ed the eye of Formula 1 mogul Flavio Briatore at a par­ty, and he had been send­ing her flow­ers every day.

So after fin­ish­ing her final uni­ver­si­ty exams, Goga packed her bags and dat­ed Flavio for three months, and was pic­tured top­less on his yacht.

After a whirl­wind romance with hotel heir Stefan Ashkenazi, she mar­ried him and moved to Los Angeles in 2003.

But she became, in her words, “so bored of the sun­shine and the beau­ti­ful life,” and so moved back to Kazakhstan, lat­er divorc­ing Stefan in 2007.

It was at this point that hers and Prince Andrew’s worlds would col­lide again.


In 2007, Goga and Andrew returned togeth­er to Phuket, Thailand, the site of their first meet­ing, where they stayed at a lux­u­ry resort.

Also in Thailand was Timur Kulibayev, son-in-law of Kazakhstan’s despot­ic President Nursultan Nazarbayev, and father of Goga’s two children.

What exact­ly they dis­cussed was a mys­tery, but just months lat­er, Andrew sold Sunninghill Park to Kulibayev for £15m, £3m more than its ask­ing price.

Goga has always denied her alleged “fix­er” role in the house sale, telling The Times: “I intro­duced them, that’s all.”

Sunninghill was to remain emp­ty and crum­bling for the next sev­en years before final­ly being torn down and rebuilt.

Andrew’s friend­ship with Goga always seemed cozy, and the Evening Standard report­ed that on her phone was a pic­ture of her­self with the prince wrapped in tow­els out­side a Kazakh sauna.

Goga alleged­ly set up the sale of Sunninghill Park to a Kazakh oligarch

Andrew intro­duced Goga to the Queen at Ascot

Goga keeps a low pro­file these days but shares pics of her glam life on Instagram

Goga’s inter­ests went far beyond Kazakhstan’s vast nat­ur­al gas and oil indus­try, and she is known to be a keen hunter.

In a 2011 edi­tion of Finch’s Quarterly Review, she penned an essay about wolf hunt­ing, a pur­suit that is con­tro­ver­sial in many coun­tries as the ani­mals are endangered.

Seizing the life of this majes­tic species leaves you with a sense of grief and a sense of dig­ni­fied glo­ry,” she wrote.

She went on to describe the many ways of killing wolves, includ­ing “lur­ing, call­ing, flog­ging, dri­ving, hunt­ing with dogs and eagles, to poi­son­ing and trapping”.

Andrew him­self is a keen hunter and went on a shoot­ing week­end with President Nazarbayev, who he met through Goga.

The 81-year-old, who stepped down in 2019, presided over a regime where cor­rup­tion was rife, tor­ture was com­mon­place, and free speech was non-existent.

And Goga also intro­duced Andrew to anoth­er fan of blood sports,  for­mer Libyan dic­ta­tor Muammar Gadaffi’s son Saif.

In 2011, it was report­ed that the prince had met Saif on three occa­sions, start­ing in 2008.

It was claimed that Andrew and Saif dis­cussed the release of Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset Al Megrahi days after Libya offi­cial­ly called for him to be returned.

Buckingham Palace denied any meet­ings or dis­cus­sions had tak­en place between the pair over the release of the man con­vict­ed of bomb­ing Pan Am Flight 103 in 1988 result­ing in 270 deaths.

Saif and Goga went out hunt­ing wolves and wild boar, although fol­low­ing the over­throw of Gaddafi, and Saif fac­ing accu­sa­tions of crimes against human­i­ty, Goga was quick to dis­tance her­self from him.

Goga lives in Milan now but still owns a £28m man­sion in London’s Holland Park.

She bought up Vionnet, the 100-year-old French fash­ion label, in 2012, but has since moved into sus­tain­able fash­ion Geco.

Goga has con­tin­ued to deny that she and Andrew were ever an item, dis­miss­ing the rumours as “such nonsense”.

She told reporters: “Andrew has been a very good friend of mine since we met at a din­ner par­ty in 2001… He’s very clever and I don’t know why peo­ple have it in for him.”

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