That privatization should give birth to new owners who previously had been the factories’ directors or senior government ministers is not surprising. It was merely a matter of seizing what was already there. Of course this made them very different from the robber barons in the United States who built their empires by building steel mills, railroads, and refineries. These Russian oligarchs did not build. They simply purloined what previously belonged to the state and in the process became instant millionaires, if not billionaires. As colorful as these oligarchs are, it is the third category of oligarch that is the most interesting. The people in this group are generally not ethnic Russians nor members of the main apparatchik cadre of the Soviet era. Moreover, they acted more outside than inside the law during the communist era. Several had been charged earlier with economic crimes and some even served time in jail. We shall explore here how they grew so wealthy so rapidly. What makes them so intriguing is that their rise to affluence may have been because of-not despite-their previous low social standing.