A Clinic for the Filthy Rich

Neo Vita
Heels clicking on a floor as smooth as glass, a pretty blonde in a light-green uniform meets visitors arriving at Neo Vita, Russia's first clinic for millionaires, which opened in Moscow last week.

The entrance hall, which sports a light and water sculpture, armchairs of ivory leather and the latest issues of luxury magazines, gives way to an inpatient facility that has received the 5-star rating usually reserved for the likes of the Ritz-Carlton.

The clinic is located close to Rublyovka, the area around Rublyovskoye Shosse, primarily populated by Russia's superrich. It will provide medical services that are currently available only in a select number of Western clinics, said psychotherapist Artyom Tolokonin, the clinic's director and founder.

Tolokonin is very popular among the inhabitants of Rublyovka. As a psychotherapist to the wealthy, he treats such problems as adultery, the trauma of divorce, depression, impotence and addictions ranging from alcoholism and drug addiction to obsessions with gambling, shopping and sex.

In his new clinic, Tolokonin offers his clients medical help of the highest standard within the context of his original system, which believes that physical problems can only be solved by first treating the mind.

The clinic works on a club membership system, and the facility can accommodate only 50 VIPs at one time.

"We can see any patient who is able to pay for our services, but we start treatment only after a special one-year contract is signed," Tolokonin said.

Neo Vita
The Neo Vita clinic boasts the most advanced -- an most luxurious -- medical facilities available for its elite clientele.

This kind of practice is very different from a system that depends on medical insurance. While under an insurance program the patient decides which specialist to see and when, Tolokonin's system encourages his professional team to work with patients and consider their cases throughout the term of a client's membership.

"We consider almost every aspect of our patient's life, including the time he usually goes to bed and the number of cigarettes he smokes during the day," Tolokonin said. "We plan his health for the whole year."

An annual program of treatment at the clinic costs about 1.5 million rubles ($63,000) on average and includes treatment from a personal physician, gynecologist, urologist, dietician, neurologist, psychotherapist and a program of laboratory diagnostics. Additional specialists can be provided if necessary.

"If we see it is beneficial for our patient, we can invite a specialist from any place in the world to see him here," Tolokonin said.

Special programs for families are available for 2.5 million rubles, and for 5 million rubles the whole clinic can be closed to other patients should a client want a completely confidential visit.

Every program includes a one-hour personal consultation with Tolokonin, who usually charges 250,000 rubles per one-hour session. He will also serve as a client's personal physician for 250 million rubles ($10.5 million). Tolokonin said he usually has two or three such patients a year.

Neo Vita
Artyom Tolokonin
One of the most expensive psychotherapists in the world, Tolokonin is also popular among Russian-speaking clients from abroad, since Western psychotherapists are often unsuccessful in treating patients from a Russian cultural background. "For the Russian frame of mind, Western systems are not always helpful," he said.

Tolokonin and his colleagues do not believe in using drugs to treat mental problems.

"I use different methods of psychotherapy for different patients," he said. His methods can include psychoanalysis, Gestalt therapy and elements of yoga and relaxation practices.

Even with these prices, the clinic has no problem finding clients, said Olesya Mirgorod, the clinic's spokeswoman. Officially, there are more than 100,000 millionaires in Russia, and Neo Vita can only treat 50 of them at a time.

Overall investment in the project has amounted to about $10 million, and Tolokonin dismissed recent media speculation that the project's primary investor was Millhouse Capital, the company of oligarch Roman Abramovich.

"I invested my own money in it," Tolokonin said.

Abramovich's name has been already mentioned in the media in connection with Tolokonin's; in October 2006, the doctor published an open letter describing how Abramovich could avoid a divorce, discussing the social aspects of marriage and how to cope with the aftermath of an affair. Abramovich, however, opted to ignore the good doctor's advice.


Neo Vita,
45 Krylatskaya Ulitsa, korpus 1, 983-1020, www.neo-vita.ru