Shifrin was born in Dnipropetrovsk, Soviet Ukraine, the son of metallurgy professor Vladimir Moiseyevich Shifrin. From 1977–1983, he attended the Moscow Institute of Steel and Alloys, earning a PhD in metallurgy. Over the next 10 years, he worked in Zaporizhia at the steel company Dniprospecstal, rising from assistant foreman to manager of the steel plant and then head of marketing. He then rose to prominence as a Business oligarch in newly independent Ukraine, taking control of privatised steelmaker Zaporizhstal. He co-founded, with Alexander Shnaider, Midland Group, a holding company headquartered in Guernsey that embraces interests in steel (including Zaporizhstal, Ukraine's fourth largest steel mill), shipping, real estate, agriculture and Sports. Together they own a share in Trump Tower Toronto and formerly owned Maccabi Tel Aviv and a Formula One team, Midland F1 Racing. He and Shnaider were best friends since childhood, as their fathers were best friends.
In the 2006 edition of the Sunday Times Rich List, Shifrin was listed at No. 59 with an estimated wealth of £920 million. In Forbes magazine's ranking of "The World's Billionaires" in 2009, Shifrin was ranked 559th with an estimated fortune of $1.3 billion. In 2013, Focus magazine estimated his net worth at $893.3 million, making him the No. 20 richest person in Ukraine.
Shifrin and his wife live in London with their three children. He is Jewish and was formerly a vice-president of the World Jewish Congress, elected in 2009.
On 27 October 2016, Shifrin and his daughter Sofia Rose, 16, received Russian citizenship by decree of Vladimir Putin.