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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HOW PRINCE ANDREW WAS ‘BESOTTED’ WITH GLAM KAZAKH HUNTRESS WHO ‘INTRODUCED HIM TO GADDAFI & BROKERED £15M HOUSE DEAL’