Fact Check: Fake Invoice And Digitally Manipulated Video DON'T Prove Zelenskyy's Wife Bought 4.5-Million-Euro Bugatti In France In June 2024

Fact Check

  • by: Uliana Malashenko

STORY UPDATED: check for updates below.

Fact Check: Fake Invoice And Digitally Manipulated Video DON'T Prove Zelenskyy's Wife Bought 4.5-Million-Euro Bugatti In France In June 2024 Bugatti Denies

Did Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy's wife, Olena Zelenska, buy a Bugatti sports car for almost 4.5 million euros in June 2024? No, that's not true: The invoice supposedly proving the claim contained multiple errors. Both Bugatti and Bugatti's Paris-based dealership denied the authenticity of the document shared online and a video supposedly showing a Bugatti employee confirming the claim appears to have been generated using AI.

The claim appeared in a post (archived here) on X, formerly known as Twitter, on July 1, 2024. It opened:

🚨🇺🇦 Ukrainian President Zelensky's wife just bought a €4.4 MILLION Bugatti sports car with American taxpayer dollars.

This is what the post looked like on X at the time of writing:

Screenshot 2024-07-02 at 8.51.58 AM.png

(Source: X screenshot taken on Tue Jul 2 12:51:58 2024 UTC)

The post contained what appeared to be a Bugatti Paris invoice issued on June 7, 2024, with Olena Zelenska's name on it. The shared document, however, contained multiple inconsistencies, casting doubts on its authenticity.

For example, it lacked a line for the VAT (value-added tax) number (archived here), which can be roughly described as an equivalent of a Social Security number and tax ID that is unique for each EU country.

Frederick Davis (archived here), a lecturer in law at Columbia University who specializes in financial crimes in France among other things, told Lead Stories via email on July 2, 2024: "... the bank info seems odd because it refers to a 'BSB' which I think is an Australian code. A bank in France would have an 'IBAN' number." BSB (archived here) is a Bank-State-Branch six-digit code identifying a specific branch of an Australian financial institution. IBAN (archived here) is an international bank account number identifying individual bank accounts around the globe to facilitate international transactions.

Furthermore, the name of the location seen in the bottom right corner of the shared document was misspelled: That Paris suburb -- Neuilly-sur-Seine (archived here) -- is spelled with two L's, not one.

Nicole Auger (archived here), the head of marketing and communications for Bugatti Automobiles S.A.S, told Lead Stories via email on July 2, 2024:

According to an internal check, Mrs. Zelenska is not a BUGATTI customer. BUGATTI Automobiles S.A.S. does not wish to comment on or anticipate any further assessments regarding the suggested reports besides that it is 'fake news'.

On July 2, 2024, the official account of Bugatti Paris on Instagram (archived here) posted a statement from the brand's dealership in Paris refuting the claim, too. Contrary to the post on X, its current name is not Schumacher Groupe but the Car Lovers Group. As translated by Google Chrome, the statement reads:

The Car Lovers Group firmly denies both the existence of this transaction and, therefore, the existence of this invoice.

Not only are the mandatory legal notices missing from the invoice, but the price of the vehicle is also incorrect, the price of the options and their descriptions are inaccurate and inconsistent, the graphic charter is outdated, and the Car Lovers Group would never have allowed the publication of such a document. This erroneous information will, we hope, attract everyone's attention.

The Car Lovers Group has already brought the facts set out above before the courts by filing a criminal complaint for forgery, use of forgery, identity theft and defamation, in particular.

Simultaneously with the fake invoice, a video of a person described as a "Bugatti employee" was shared across multiple accounts repeating the same rumor about the Bugatti purchase. Among those who boosted the claim, was Simeon Boikov (archived here) -- a self-described "number one Putin fan" (archived here) who goes on the Internet by "Aussie Cossack" (archived here). Some other versions of the clip contained Russian subtitles (archived here).

Three tools designed to detect AI-generated content showed that the video with the purported "testimony" about Zelenskyy's wife buying a Bugatti car was not authentic:

Screenshot 2024-07-02 at 10.23.36 AM.png

(Source: Hive Moderation screenshot taken on Tue Jul 2 14:23:36 2024 UTC)

Screenshot 2024-07-02 at 10.25.03 AM.png

(Source: True Media screenshot taken on Tue Jul 2 14:25:03 2024 UTC)
Screenshot 2024-07-02 at 10.27.17 AM.png(Source: DeepFake-O-Meter screenshot taken on Tue Jul 2 14:27:17 2024 UTC)

The claim about the purported Bugatti purchase originated from the French-registered website Verite Cachee (archived here). Contrary to best journalistic practices, it did not disclose any information about the team behind it and did not share any contact information.

According to the ICANN Lookup tool, this website was created only days before the claim that is the focus of this fact check went viral:

Screenshot 2024-07-02 at 11.19.59 AM.png
(Source: ICANN screenshot taken on Tue Jul 2 15:19:59 2024 UTC)

Nevertheless, on July 1, 2024, the Russian state news agency Ria Novosti published an article that was based on a single source uncorroborated by anything else: Verite Cachee.

Ukraine's government Center for Countering Disinformation described (archived here) the claim as a "fake" generated by Russian propaganda.

Other Lead Stories fact checks related to the Russian-Ukrainian war can be found here.


  • 2024-07-02T18:16:14Z 2024-07-02T18:16:14Z
    Adds comment from Bugatti Automobiles S.A.S. spokesperson, also adds comment from financial crimes expert.

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  Uliana Malashenko

Uliana Malashenko is a New York-based freelance writer and fact checker.

Read more about or contact Uliana Malashenko

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