Yacht-Watch: The Fancy Boats Getting Snatched Away From Russian Oligarchs

(TPM Illustration/Getty Images)

The Russian oligarchy finds itself paying the price for Russian leader Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, which has triggered sanctions from the international community against Kremlin-tied billionaires and financial institutions left and right. And sadly for those oligarchs, Putin doesn’t seem particularly interested in their plight.

With many of their assets abroad frozen, some of Russia’s most obscenely wealthy find their lavish million-dollar superyachts are now in danger of being yanked away by the countries where they were docked or, in at least one case, just straight-up sabotaged by normal citizens out of protest.

The Amadea

Owner: Suleiman Kerimov, a top gold-mining investor and politician who serves in the Federation Council of Russia

Worth: About $300 million, according to the Justice Department

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What happened: Law enforcement in Fiji, where the yacht was docked, seized it at the request of the U.S. government after a Fijan court approved the warrant on May 3. The Department of Justice announced the seizure on May 5.

The Amadea is a 348-foot/106-meter luxury megayacht outfitted with, among other things, a 33-foot pool, a hot tub, dining area that seats up to 24 people, a private saloon and bar for the owner, a helipad, a movie theater, a “mandatory” limo tender (in the words of Boat International) and a hand-painted Pleyel piano. Oh, and a live tank for lobsters.

Speaking of U.S. seizures: Biden has unveiled a new plan for Ukraine aid that proposes selling seized Russian assets, including yachts like Kerimov’s, to pay for the aid. However, it’s not clear if the President actually has the authority to do that.

The Dilbar

Owner: Alisher Usmanov, a steel and iron ore investor, and his sister

Worth: Between $600 and $735 million, according to the Treasury Department

What happened: The German government announced on April 12 that the 512-foot Dilbar had been recently impounded in a shipyard in Hamburg after investigators confirmed that the enormous yacht currently belongs to Usmanov’s sister, Gulbakhor Ismailova, who was recently sanctioned like her brother. The U.K. and the E.U. said that Usmanov had transferred his assets, including the yacht, to her.

The ship crew, which could no longer be paid thanks to the sanctions, got laid off on March 7, according to Forbes and Bloomberg, and the lonely superyacht was left stranded in the Hamburg shipyard, where it was being refitted.

Forbes reported in early March that the yacht had been seized by the German government, but Hamburg authorities disputed that report at the time.

The Dilbar—which was custom made for Usmanov—is the world’s biggest yacht by tonnage (15,917 tons) and can carry up to 120 people at full capacity. It has the biggest swimming pool ever installed on a yacht, a garden and not one, but two helicopter pads (you know how it goes when several of your helicopter-owning guests try to fly to your yacht at the same time).

The Tango

Owner: Viktor Vekselberg, the owner of Renova Group, a oil and metals conglomerate in Russia

Worth: $90 million, according to the Justice Department, though SuperYachtFan puts the price tag at $120 million

What happened: The U.S. authorities seized it in the port of Palma de Mallorca in Spain on April 4, marking the U.S. government’s first strike in its hunt for sanctioned Russian oligarchs’ luxury yachts. The seizure was a joint operation with Spain’s Civil Guard.

The Tango is a 254-foot yacht that can accommodate 14 guests and comes with a contra-flow swimming pool, a massage and beauty parlor and an outdoor cinema, according to its manufacturer, Feadship.

Here’s a fun fact: Vekselberg allegedly had ties to then-Trump fixer Michael Cohen’s hush payment scheme involving adult film actress Stormy Daniels during Trump’s 2016 election. Investigators in special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe questioned Vekselberg as part of the sweeping inquiry.

The Phi

Owner: The owner has not been named publicly by law enforcement, but the Financial Times reports that it belongs to Vitaly Vasilievich Kochetkov, the founder of a mobile network called Motiv Telecom

Worth: $50 million

What happened: The British government detained it in London on March 29. The U.K.’s National Crime Agency has declined to identify the owner, saying only that the person is a Russian businessman who hasn’t been sanctioned in Britain but whose yacht was still subject to seizure given his connection to Russia.

At 58.5 meters (192 feet long), this boat has a penthouse for the owner up top, a pool (of course!) and something Royal Huisman, the manufacturer, calls “an infinite wine cellar.”

Insider has photos of the megayacht docked in London. It looks like something from Star Wars.

The Big Bear

Owner: Alexey Kuzmichev, a cofounder of Alfa-Bank, Russia’s largest private bank

Worth: €70 million (about $76.9 million)

What happened: French authorities seized the 26-meter (85-foot) yacht in Antibes in southeast France on March 21, according to AFP and French media outlet BMF TV.

The Little Bear

Owner: Alexey Kuzmichev, a cofounder of Alfa-Bank, Russia’s largest private bank

Worth: €20 million (about $22 million)

What happened: French authorities seized the 17-meter (56-foot) yacht in Cannes, a port city in southeast France, on March 16, according to AFP and French media outlet BMF TV.

The Axioma

Owner: Dmitrievich Pumpyansky, the owner of Russian steel pipe manufacturer TMK

Worth: $75 million

What happened: Local authorities seized it at Gibraltar, a British overseas territory on the southern coast of Spain, on March 21. The government told Insider and Reuters that the 236-foot yacht was “was confirmed to be the subject of an arrest action by a leading international bank in the Supreme Court of Gibraltar.”

Sadly, that means that Pumpyansky and his cronies are now deprived of the 3D movie theater, infinity pool, Jacuzzi with a swim-up bar, steam and massage rooms and jet skis the megayacht comes with (per yacht brokerage Northrop & Johnson).

The Crescent

Owner: Unconfirmed, but Reuters reports that it’s believed to belong to Igor Sechin, the CEO of the Russian oil giant Rosneft. If that’s true, that’ll be the second yacht Sechin’s lost in Europe’s yacht hunt.

Worth: $600 million

What happened: Spanish authorities seized it at the port of Tarragona on March 16.

At 443 feet, the Crescent is one of the top 25 biggest yachts in the world, and it can hold up to 18 guests in nine suites. The mega-yacht comes with a beach club, a beauty salon, a pool and a movie theater.

And of course we can’t forget the two helipads and a retractable helicopter hangar.

The Lady Anastasia

Owner: Aleksander Mikheev, the CEO of the Russian weapons exporter Rosoboronexport

Worth: $7 million

What happened: The Spanish authorities seized it at a port in Mallorca on March 15, a little over two weeks after the yacht’s own chief mechanic, who is Ukrainian, tried to sink the 157-foot boat on Feb. 26.

The mechanic, Taras Ostapchuk, told the court and the media after his arrest that he’d been enraged by footage he saw of a Russian missile attack on an apartment in Kyiv and believed that the rocket could’ve been provided by his own boss. Ostapchuk said he sought revenge by opening two of the ship’s valves in the engine room and crew area, and telling the other crew members (some of whom were Ukrainian too) to abandon ship. Some workers got law enforcement to intervene before it could sink.

Ostapchuk isn’t sorry about any of it.

“I don’t regret anything I’ve done and I would do it again,” he told the court.

The Valerie

Owner: Sergei Chemezov, the CEO of Russian state defense conglomerate Rostec and a former KGB agent, according to Reuters and the Associated Press

Worth: $153 million

What happened: Spain got in on the action and seized its first yacht on March 14 in Barcelona, according to Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez, who announced that law enforcement had “temporarily immobilized” the 279-foot boat. He also promised that “there will be more to come.”

Valerie has two master suites, 7 guest suites, a beach club (which includes a pool, lounge, Jacuzzi and a bar), a spa, gym and a helipad (of course), according to SuperYachtsMonaco.

Sailing Yacht A (‘SY A’)

Owner: Andrey Melnichenko, the founder of fertilizer producer EuroChem Group and coal company SUEK

Worth: $578 million

What happened: Italian authorities seized it at the port of Trieste in northeastern Italy on March 11.

At 469 feet, SY A is world’s largest sailing yacht in the world, according to SuperYachtFan. In addition to a spa and gym (pffft, how basic), the megayacht has an underwater observation pod, according to its manufacturer, Nobiskrug.

Oh, and it comes with four “tenders” (aka smaller support yachts that go with your big yacht): A private tender for the owner, two luxury limousine tenders for guests and a tender to help the crew work on the big yacht.

The Lady M

Owner: Alexey Mordaschov, the chairman of the Russian steel company Severstal

Worth: 65 million Euros ($70.7 million)

What happened: Italian authorities seized it in the port of Imperia in northwestern Italy on March 4.

This 215-foot yacht was impounded as part of the Italian government’s sweep of five Russian oligarchs’ assets (worth total $156 million) in the country on March 4, during which a second yacht belonging to a different oligarch was seized at another port nearby. Law enforcement also took the oligarchs’ luxury villas during the operation.

The Lena

Owner: Gennady Timchenko, owner of Volga, a private investor group that holds interests in energy and transportation industry

Worth: 50 million Euros ($54.4 million)

What happened: Italian authorities seized it at the port of Sanremo on March 4.

Timchenko was in good company that day; the Italian government had taken fellow billionaire Alexey Mordaschov’s yacht during the same sweep.

The Amore Vero

Owner: Igor Sechin, the CEO of the Russian oil giant Rosneft

Worth: $120 million, according to SuperYachtFan

What happened: French customs officials seized it at the Cote D’Azur, where it had been docked for repairs, on March 2.

This 280-foot yacht has seven suites that can accommodate up to 14 people (owner and guests). It’s also got a beauty salon, a gym and an elevator.

This post will be updated as we learn about the fates of more yachts.

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