Bulgarian UNESCO Chief and Her Family Own Manhattan Property Worth More Than USD 3 Million

The family's income justifies such investment only if they lived extremely frugally


The first term in office of Bulgarian Irina Bokova as Director-General of UNESCO was marked by the admission of Palestine as a member of the organization at the end of 2011. The decision led to the suspension of funding by the United States and Israel and budget cuts and hardships for this United Nations’ organization.

Unlike UNESCO’s finances, the personal finances of Ms. Bokova’s family are in a brilliant shape – from 2011 to date. This was revealed by an inquiry of Bivol in the public property register of New York.

She has acquired two apartments in Manhattan for $ 2.4 million paid in cash. Her son from a first marriage has managed to repay a mortgage in the amount of $870,000 in just four years.

Irina Bokova acquired her first apartment in Manhattan, New York, on November 6, 2012. The price, paid in cash (there are no records of a mortgage or installments), was $1,189,438. Her husband Kalin Mitrev is a co-owner. The property of 84.6 square meters is close to the United Nations headquarters – on 3rd Avenue and 46th Street. Bokova’s son Pavel Kolarov is listed as a proxy in the transaction and she has indicated his address as her permanent address in New York, despite the fact that at that time Irina Bokova officially resided in Paris.


The second apartment, which the family acquired against $1.225 million, is a little farther away from the United Nations building – on 2nd Avenue and 53rd Street. It has a slightly smaller area – 76.5 square meters, but it is in a modern building built in 2006. The purchase took place on April 3, 2014 and the proxy was again Bokova’s son.


Kolarov, himself, obtained on December 5, 2008, a mortgage in the amount of $870,000 and used it to purchase an apartment near 5th Avenue. At that time Bokova was already elected to lead UNESCO and was to take office on January 1, 2009. On October 4, 2012, the mortgage loan from the JP Morgan Chase bank, granted to Kolarov and the woman living with him, was marked as repaid in full.


Pocket Change Savings?

Bivol examined Irina Bokova’s official income in recent years, and her property transactions in Bulgaria. All her wages together, plus the sales of property in Bulgaria and her savings would be enough to cover the purchase of one of the apartments.

Irina Bokova’s salary as Director of UNESCO is about $146,000 net a year (see here), or about $ 780,000 for her entire term in office. In 2012, Irina Bokova sold two properties in Bulgaria for a total of 633,000 levs ($380,000). Her savings must be added to this sum. She served for four years as Bulgarian Ambassador in Paris. Despite the rather modest ambassador salary of € 3,000 a month, she had no housing expenses/utility bills and theoretically could save about $ 130,000 in the course of these four years.

Thus, the total sum from the above paragraph covers the cost of one of the Manhattan apartments.

However, her husband’s income must be taken into account as well. Kalin Mitrev was a longtime representative of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) in Bulgaria and was appointed to this post by former Socialist Prime Minister Zhan Videnov. His net annual salary as EBRD Director for Bulgaria, Poland and Albania is comparable with that of his wife in UNESCO. Furthermore, in 2014 Mitrev sold a property in Bulgaria for 288,000 levs ($160,000) .

It is logical to assume that in order to cover the cost of their investment in Manhattan, the family lived frugally and cut all expenses for food, clothing and travel. In this case, it all adds up.

Bivol attempted to reach Irina Bokova for comment, but did not receive an answer from the UNESCO Secretariat in Paris. The information about property and conflicts of interest declarations of United Nations personnel is not public, and the organization also failed to respond to a request for information on Irina Bokova’s declarations.



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