More than a dozen superyachts have been seized in European ports in the last five weeks as part of sweeping sanctions imposed on Russian billionaires. From Hamburg in northern Germany to the Spanish island of Mallorca, at least 13 of the so-called floating palaces they are anchored with minimal crews to keep them in good condition and to be able to sail again one day. Officials from the United States, the United Kingdom and the European Union have targeted the ships in freezing assets belonging to ultra-rich Russians, seen as close to the Kremlin and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The largest and most expensive of the stopped superyachts is the dilbar, of 156 meters and owned by Alisher Usmanov, who has been sanctioned by the United States, the United Kingdom and the EU. Described by the ship’s builder, Luerssen, as “one of the most complex and challenging yachts ever built,” it is worth between €538 million and €573 million, according to maritime data provider VesselsValue. She has been immobilized in Hamburg for about a month.
But in that time the authorities have not stopped announcing new embargoes on the oligarchs. This same week, the Tango, an 82 million euro yacht belonging to Russian billionaire Viktor Vekselberg, has been seized in Mallorca at the request of the United States. The seizure was coordinated through the US justice system, whose list of sanctions has included the ship’s owner since March. The Treasury Department announced the sanctions against him considering that he maintains “close ties” with the main officials of the Russian Government, including Putin and former President Dmitri Medvedev, who put him at the head of a foundation that aims to attract technological investment to Russia .
At the same time, a judge in Tarragona has opened a judicial investigation against the Crescent, another mega yacht valued at more than 100 million euros and owned by Igor Sechin, also considered close to Putin. This ship had been immobilized since March 16 by order of the General Directorate of the Merchant Marine, dependent on the Spanish Ministry of Transport, in application of the sanctions launched by the European Union against 893 people after the invasion of Ukraine. She has been moored in the port of Tarragona since November 2, when the war had not yet broken out. Four months later, on March 4, when the European Commission had already agreed to apply sanctions to the Russian oligarchs after the start of the invasion of Ukraine, the crew asked the port captain for their departure, but in the end they did not set sail.
In total, the arrested superyachts of the sanctioned Russian tycoons add up to a value that exceeds 1,800 million euros. Many of them are longer than a blue whale and have features typical of luxury homes such as large swimming pools, spa, heliports and Swarovski crystal lamps. Their maintenance is very expensive, even when they are docked. This poses a challenge for crews, whose salaries are paid by someone who is under sanctions, and for ports, which are at the mercy of docking rights from owners.
As sanctions have been expanded, other Russian-owned ships have eluded authorities by sailing into more friendly waters. Two of former Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich’s superyachts, with a combined value of more than 900 million, have moved to the shores of Turkey in recent weeks after leaving from Barcelona and the Caribbean island of Saint Martin (with French and Dutch sovereignty). ). and the super yacht Nord, steel tycoon Alexei Mordashov, is on his way to Vladivostok, Russia, while others are fleeing to Dubai or have switched off their transponders, thus hiding their whereabouts.
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