Seized yachts: What we know so far

Conor Feasey
By Conor Feasey April 25, 2022 14:32

Seized yachts: What we know so far

More than 50 yachts, valued in billions of dollars, have been detained worldwide in connection with sanctions imposed after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, according to a Superyacht Investor investigation. Governments have formally and publicly seized 15 superyachts, with a combined value of $3.1bn, which have been proven to be owned by individuals with strong connections to the Kremlin.

A further 20 yachts have been detained by the Finnish government while in winter storage. The Netherlands government says it has detained 14 yachts, 12 of which were under construction and two undergoing maintenance, but has not identified them.

Another two superyachts have been arrested by the Antiguan government after a link with Russian oligarch, Roman Abramovich, was discovered. The respective governments are holding them under arrest whilst links to sanctioned individuals are investigated.

The biggest, and most recent superyacht seizure, is the 512ft (156m) Dilbar, owned by Uzbeki-Russian oligarch Alisher Usmanov, which was detained in by the German authorities in the Port of Hamburg on April 14th. The smallest vessel is Alexey Kuzmichev’s 56 ft (17m) Little Bear, detained in Cannes, France on March 16th.

“Nobody in our industry has ever been in this situation before,” James Jaffa, partner, Jaffa & Co, tells Superyacht Investor. “Russians are known to be the biggest clientele for the superyachts,” he says. “These seizures are sure to spark legal disputes. I think there is potential for decades of litigation over this.” Russian owners account for 9% of all superyachts in market share and 14.7% by volume in 2021, according to Superyacht Times Intelligence.

Meanwhile, Superyacht Investor lists below the 15 superyachts seized by authorities identified as owned by someone with Russian connections. We also consider the future of ‘grey superyachts’ – vessels that have been detained by the authorities but not officially seized.

Government seized superyachts

Dilbar
Owner: Alisher Usmanov, owner of USM Holdings
Sanctioned: February 28th; By EU, UK, US
Seized: April 14th, Hamburg, Germany
Size: 512ft (156m)
Value: $600m.

Phi (pictured as Project Phi)
Owner: Vitaly Vasilievich Kochetkov, founder, Motiv Telecom
Sanctioned: N/A, Controversial as he is on no sanction list
Seized: UK, March 29th
Size:192ft (58m)
Value: $50m.

Flying Fox
Owner: Dmitry Kamenshchik, chairman and owner of Moscow Domodedovo Airport
Sanctioned: N/A. As yet unsanctioned
Seized: March 21st, Santo Dominigo, Dominican Republic
Size: 466ft (142m)
Value: $455m.

The Little Bear
Owner: Alexey Kuzmichev, co-founder of Russia’s largest private bank – Alfa-Bank
Sanctioned: March 15th, By: EU, UK
Seized: Cannes, France, March 16th
Size: 56ft (17m)
Value: $22m.

The Big Bear
Owner: Alexey Kuzmichev
Sanctioned: March 15th, By: EU, UK
Seized: Antibes, France, March 21st
Size: 85ft (26m)
Value: $77m.

Axioma
Owner: Dmitry Pumpyansky, owner of TMK (steel pipe supplier for oil and gas industry)
Sanctioned: March 15th, By: EU, UK
Seized in: British Gibraltar Territorial Waters, March 21st
Size: 236ft (72m)
Value: $75m.

Tango
Owner: Viktor Vekselberg, owner and president, Renova Group (conglomerate with interests in aluminium, oil, energy, telecoms)
Sanctioned: March 11th; By UK, US
Seized: Mallorca, Spain, April 4th
Size: 255ft (78m)
Value: $90m.

Lena
Owner: Gennady Timchenko, energy magnate (also a president Putin’s judo partner)
Sanctioned: March 24th; By EU, UK (US in 2014)
Seized: San Remo, Italy, March 5th
Size: 126ft (38m)
Value: $55m.

Lady M
Owner: Alexei Mordashov, Severstal main shareholder
Sanctioned: February 28th; By EU, UK,
Seized: Imperia, Italy, March 7th
Size: 215ft (65.5m)
Value: Up to $70m.

Sailing Yacht A
Owner: Andrey Melnichenko, EuroChem (fertiliser manufacturer) founder
Sanctioned: March 9th; By EU, UK
Seized: Trieste, Italy, March 12th
Size: 469ft (143m)
Value: $580m.

Valerie
Owner: Sergey Chemezov, CEO Rostec (military hardware manufacturer), ex-KGB
Sanctioned: April 28th; By EU, UK, US
Seized: Barcelona, Spain, March 14th
Size: 279 ft (85m)
Value: $140m.

Lady Anastasia
Owner: Alexander Mikheyev, CEO, Rosoboronexport (state-owned defence inports/exports), ex-KGB,
Sanctioned: March 15th; By EU, UK, US
Seized: Mallorca, Spain, March 15th
Size: 157ft (48m)
Value: $8m.

The Royal Romance
Owner: Viktor Medvedchuk, Pro-Kremlin Ukrainian Politician (Arrested in Ukraine April 14th)
Sanctioned: February 19th; By: UK, US
Seized: Rijeka, Croatia, March 16th
Size: 302ft (92m)
Value: $200m.

Amore Vero
Owner: Igor Sechin, CEO, Rosneft (gas and oil company)
Sanctioned: February 28th; By EU, UK, US
Seized: La Ciotat France, March 2nd
Size: 280ft (85m)
Value: $120m.

Crescent
Owner: Igor Sechin, CEO, Rosneft (gas and oil company)
Sanctioned: February 28th; By EU, UK, US
Seized: Tarragona, Spain, March 16th
Size: 443ft (135m)
Value: $600m.

Grey superyachts: the questions remain

Ragnar and other yachts find themselves between a rock and a hard place.

Superyachts generally sport shiny white paintwork, but some are looking distinctly grey – at least in terms of their sanctions’ status.

For example, Phi and Flying Fox do not belong to sanctioned individuals, yet both have been seized by the UK and US governments respectively.

Dilbar was also initially reported to have been seized in March. However, only on April 14th was its ownership officially linked to sanctioned individual, USM Holdings owner Alisher Usmanov. The German authorities then detained the vessel.

The ownership of $700m Scheherazade, docked in Massa, Tuscany, is under the investigation by Italian authorities. The 460ft (140m) yacht is thought to linked directly to President Putin himself.

Another controversial superyacht is the 223ft (70m) Ragnar (pictured aboved in 2021) owned by former KGB agent Vladimir Strzhalkovsky. While the yacht hasn’t been seized and Strzhalkovsky is not sanctioned, Norwegian suppliers have refused to fuel it since mid-March.

On March 23rd, the Finnish government detained 20 yachts and is holding them in winter storage until the owners are identified. One of which is thought to belong to former Russian president Dimitry Medvedev.

In the Netherlands, government authorities impounded 14 yachts in shipyards nationwide. Of those, 12 were under construction with the remaining two undergoing maintenance.

The Antiguan government has also reportedly arrested two yachts, Halo and Garcon, on behalf of the UK. Both are thought to be owned by EU and UK sanctioned Roman Abramovich.

There are dozens of vessels owned by sanctioned individuals still at large. Many of them have sought refuge in Turkey and other countries after fleeing the Mediterranean last month.

Many are docked in countries that that do not recognise sanctions legislation.

“I don’t think it is inevitable [that all sanctioned yachts will be seized] because you are at the mercy of the laws of the country,” says James Jaffa, partner, Jaffa & Co. “Put [the yacht] in the territory of a country, that’s sympathetic to Russia, and they won’t enforce European or US sanctions and won’t arrest the vessel.”

Oil tycoon Roman Abramovich, sanctioned on March 10th by the EU and UK, is thought to have a fleet of vessels around the world. His vessel, the 459ft (140m) MY Solaris (pictured above in 2021 ) worth around $600m, has been docked in Bodrum, Turkey since March 21st. The Turkish government has said it will not comply with EU, UK, or US sanctions. Abramovich also has another vessel, 535ft (163m) Eclipse , docked in Turkey.

Andrei Kostin, president of the Russian state-owned VTB bank, who has been sanctioned by EU, UK and US, moved his Sea Raphosdy to Seychelles on March 3rd where it remains. The vessel Clio, belonging to UK and US sanctioned industrialist Oleg Deripaska, was in the Black Sea on April 18th after passing through the Suez Canal on April 12th.

Jaffa said: “It would be naïve to think that all countries will comply with the sanctions. Russia will always have its allies and so there will always be somewhere for these boats to turn up.”

Conor Feasey
By Conor Feasey April 25, 2022 14:32