ANALYSIS – As reported earlier by ALN, two weeks prior to launching his invasion of Ukraine Vlad the Invader Putin abruptly pulled one of his yachts from port in Hamburg before finishing repairs, to avoid Western sanctions prior to Russia invading Ukraine. Since then, his and his oligarch cronies’ yachts have been in the spotlight.
ALN also noted that the hacking group ‘Anonymous’ renamed Putin’s $100 million luxury yacht from “Graceful” to “FCKPTN” by messing with online maritime tracking data. The hackers later changed the yacht’s destination to “hell.”
While this was amusing, taking direct action against Putin’s yacht (or yachts), and those of his tycoon supporters might have more impact. Many of these luxury vessels are prized possessions worth hundreds of millions of dollars.
President Biden, in his State of the Union address on March 1, said his administration would work with European countries to target Russian oligarchs by seizing “their yachts, their luxury apartments, their private jets.” Let’s see how serious he is about that.
According to Forbes:
The European Union imposed sanctions on four more Russian billionaires on March 9, bringing the total number of sanctioned Russian billionaires to 20. At least six yachts owned by sanctioned billionaires—Andrey Melnichenko, Alexey Mordashov, Andrei Guriev, Gennady Timchenko, Alisher Usmanov and Viktor Vekselberg—were last tracked in Italy, Germany, Spain and the Dutch territory of Sint Maarten. Their personal assets in the European Union, from private jets and superyachts to luxury real estate, may now be frozen. Italian authorities froze Mordashov’s Lady M yacht and Timchenko’s Lena yacht on March 4, a day after German authorities confirmed Usmanov’s Dilbar yacht couldn’t leave a shipyard in Hamburg.
While ownership and other details are notoriously difficult to confirm in the rarified world of these mega super yachts, Forbes provides a fairly accurate listing, with photo, valuation and last reported location, of all the yachts ostensibly belonging to Putin’s oligarch inner circle and all Russian billionaires, and those born in Russia.
Two impressive ships on the list are the two super yachts owned by Roman Abramovich, together valued at over $1 billion. Abramovich has been sanctioned by the U.K.
The crown jewel of the two is the 458 foot ‘Solaris’ valued at $474 million. Its last recorded location was off the coast of Sicily, Italy on March 10 (departed Barcelona, Spain on March 8).
Coming in a close second is the 533 foot ‘Eclipse,’ valued at $438 million, this yacht’s last recorded location was off the coast of the Canary Islands on March 10 (departed Philipsburg, St. Martin on March 2).
Meanwhile, even as attention was focused on the Graceful, others speculate that this is far too small to be Putin’s primary yacht.
The Daily Mail points to another massive (460 feet) and far more expensive ($700 million) boat currently in Italy as possibly Putin’s pride and joy:
Italian authorities are currently probing whether a mysterious superyacht docked in a northern port should be seized under sanctions against Russia, following speculation that it could belong to Vladimir Putin himself.
The $700 million yacht, Scheherazade, is one of the largest and most expensive superyachts in the world, and since its launch in 2020, its true ownership has been cloaked in absolute secrecy.
Currently docked for repairs at the Italian Sea Group shipyard in Marina di Carrara, Italy, the Scheherazade is protected by measures that are extreme even by the ultra-private standards of the superyacht world, with covers hiding its nameplate and a metal barrier erected to partially block the vessel from public view.
For more than a year, workers at the shipyard have speculated that the ship belongs to Putin himself, a source there told DailyMail.com this week. ‘All the whispers were it belonged to Putin,’ the person said.
The ship’s British captain denies it belongs to Putin and claims he has never met him or seen him on the ship. However, the investigation continues, even if a yacht expressly owned for Putin’s use will likely not have his name on any papers.
Not content on waiting for sanctions, as reported by the Daily Mail, one patriotic Ukrainian ship mechanical engineer took matters into his own hands when he partly sank his Russian bosses’ relatively small $6.5 million ‘Lady Anastasia’ yacht in Spain.
The owner, Alexander Mijeev is a former head of the military supplier Russian Helicopter Corporation who took over state-owned weapons supplier Rostec six years ago.
Calling Mijeev a good employer, but a criminal for selling “weapons that kill the Ukrainian people,” Taras Ostapchuk, 55 then returned to Ukraine and joined the army to fight the Russians.