russian oil tycoon yacht

Justice Department, Russian Billionaire Battle Over Seized Superyacht

T he Justice Department last year seized a superyacht as part of a crackdown on Russia’s business elite. Now a tug of war has erupted over who owns it.

On Monday, as a Russian oil tycoon sued the U.S. government to get the 348-foot Amadea back, prosecutors said it isn’t his and sought to have it forfeited, saying it really belongs to another billionaire close to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The Justice Department said the $325 million yacht belongs to Russian oligarch Suleiman Kerimov, a business tycoon-turned-politician, who was sanctioned by the U.S. in 2018, accused of money laundering and tax evasion. It filed a complaint in Manhattan federal court Monday seeking the vessel’s forfeiture.

“The United States brings this action today after a careful and painstaking effort to develop the necessary evidence showing Suleiman Kerimov’s clear interest in the Amadea and the repeated misuse of the U.S. financial system to support and maintain the yacht for his benefit,” said Michael Khoo, co-director of a Justice Department task force targeting such assets. 

Not true, said Eduard Khudainatov, a former president of Rosneft Oil. He sued the U.S. government Monday, saying he is the rightful owner of the Amadea, which authorities confiscated in May 2022 as part of an international effort to raise the cost to the Kremlin and its supporters of pursuing the invasion of Ukraine. 

Khudainatov’s suit asserts that he, not Kerimov, owns the luxury craft, which is longer than a football field, has the requisite helicopter landing pad and is capable of cruising between continents. Khudainatov isn’t under sanctions, his suit says, and he wants the ship back.

The lawsuit includes a September letter from Khoo and his KleptoCapture task force co-director, David Lim, saying they have closed their criminal investigation into Khudainatov. While his lawyers included that letter to strengthen their case, it signals that investigators have concluded Khudainatov isn’t the vessel’s rightful owner.

“The Amadea was targeted by the U.S. government because of its size, opulence and Russian ownership, and not because of any evidence it was involved in wrongdoing,” the suit says. Representatives for Kerimov couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

The Justice Department declined to comment on the lawsuit. In the civil forfeiture complaint, prosecutors said various transactions and documents aboard the vessel link it to Kerimov, who they said wanted to make renovations to it, including turning the existing gym into a spa with a massage table, replacing the wine refrigerators with bookshelves and upgrading to bigger toilets and bidets.

The seizure of the Amadea in Fiji was among the first major, visible moves by the KleptoCapture task force, which was set up to confiscate and freeze the luxury yachts, real estate, private jets and other assets of Russian oligarchs with ties to President Vladimir Putin. 

KleptoCapture’s aim is both to punish businessmen close to the Kremlin and to use the proceeds of sales of boats and mansions to fund the reconstruction of Ukraine. Justice Department officials held up the Amadea’s seizure as an early success. But the fight over its ownership highlights the challenges law-enforcement agencies across the West face as they move to confiscate assets from rich Russians. 

Many Russian billionaires hold their wealth through a maze of opaque shell companies, the beneficial owners of which can include members of the sanctioned oligarch’s family or someone else entirely. That ownership structure often complicates the process of proving that a sanctioned individual is actually linked to an asset. Indeed, Khudainatov’s suit argues that the Amadea isn’t owned by a sanctioned individual and so shouldn’t be frozen. 

Another legal hurdle: Being sanctioned isn’t a crime. It merely freezes an individual’s asset and bars the holder from using it. Government agencies must prove an individual broke the law before they can confiscate properties such as yachts as the proceeds of crime.

An FBI agent wrote in an application for a warrant to seize the yacht that it appeared Kerimov purchased the ship in 2021, after he was sanctioned, pointing to various financial transactions. The yacht’s automated information system was turned off on Feb. 24, the document said, almost immediately after the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Khudainatov’s lawsuit said information on the yacht’s location has always been available and the warrant application, much of which has been redacted, was “knowingly false and misleading.” Khudainatov said he never sold the yacht to Kerimov and doesn’t know him.

“The DOJ has been parading the Amadea around as the poster child of President Biden’s policy,” Khudainatov’s lawyers Adam Ford and Renée Jarusinsky wrote in the suit, filed in the Southern District of California. 

U.S. taxpayers in June 2022 paid to have the Amadea sailed to San Diego, where the lawsuit estimates it has cost the government at least $1 million a month to maintain.  The U.S. government is legally obligated to maintain the value of any asset it seizes.

Western governments have held the line and maintained most of the sanctions imposed despite a wave of legal challenges. Most governments have said sanctions will only be lifted once the war in Ukraine is over. Meanwhile, taxpayers are pouring millions of dollars into maintaining yachts and other properties that no one can use.

—Max Colchester contributed to this article.

Write to Sadie Gurman at [email protected].

Justice Department, Russian Billionaire Battle Over Seized Superyacht

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Italy seizes a superyacht tied to Putin.

Italian police boarded the yacht, the Scheherazade, late on Friday, ending what appeared to be preparations to set sail.

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By Gaia Pianigiani

  • May 6, 2022

After weeks of investigation, Italian authorities announced late Friday evening that they had impounded a nearly $700 million superyacht, saying that its owner had “significant economic and business links” to “prominent elements of the Russian government.” According to U.S. officials, the prominent element is none other than Russia’s president, Vladimir V. Putin.

In recent days, the Scheherazade, as the enormous luxury ship is named, showed signs of readying to set sail , apparently aiming to leave before the Italian government could seize it. But late Friday, Italian police boarded the yacht — which is 459 feet long, with two helicopter decks, a gym and a swimming pool convertible into a dance floor — and told the crew that the ship was not going anywhere. The Italian finance ministry announced that an investigation had established that the ship’s owner, whom it did not name, was an individual that “threatened peace and international security” and that the individual’s actions amounted to the “undermining or threatening the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine.”

The ministry also specified the urgency to implement the restrictions as the reason to freeze the floating, and extremely expensive, asset.

The Italian authorities, who have actively impounded villas and yachts belonging to sanctioned Russian oligarchs, said in a statement that it had impounded the ship, which is in the dry dock of the port of Marina di Carrara, on the northern coast of Tuscany, even though the person they had identified as its technical owner did not currently appear on a European sanctions list. They added that they could not name the individual until the European Council published the name, and the Italian government committee tasked with protecting the country’s financial security called for the person’s name to be added to the list.

Italian media outlets have for weeks reported that Eduard Khudainatov, a Russian oil tycoon who is currently not under sanctions, owns the yacht. Mr. Khudainatov is considered close to Igor Sechin, a powerful oligarch and close friend of Mr. Putin’s who is currently under sanctions. Italian financial police officials reached on Friday night declined to say who they believed owned the ship.

The captain and the chairman of the Marina di Carrara shipyard, where the Scheherazade underwent refitting and has wintered for two consecutive years, have denied assertions made by U.S. intelligence service, construction workers, crew members and locals in the small port that the vessel unofficially belongs to, and is for the use of, Mr. Putin. They have argued that, on paper, it belonged to a Russian individual who hasn’t been sanctioned by international authorities.

The ship’s captain, Guy Bennett-Pearce, told The New York Times recently that its owner was not on the sanctions list, but also denied to have seen or met Mr. Putin on the yacht.

Yet a former Scheherazade crew member told The New York Times that he had never heard of Mr. Khudainatov and confirmed that crew members always believed and discussed the real owner to be Mr. Putin.

Gaia Pianigiani is a reporter based in Italy for The New York Times.  More about Gaia Pianigiani

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Photos show the luxury mega yachts that belong to Russian oligarchs — some of whom have hidden their ships as the UK ramps up sanctions.

  • Sanctions targeting Russian oligarchs threaten their luxury assets — including their mega yachts.
  • Many countries have implemented sanctions targeting Putin and Russian oligarchs following Russia's attack on Ukraine.
  • Insider compiled a photo list of some of the luxury vessels.

Insider Today

Russian billionaires' assets — including their megayachts — are in danger of being seized as countries continue to impose sanctions on Russian oligarchs in response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

US President Joe Biden announced that the US will make a substantial effort to seize Russian oligarchs' assets.

"We are joining with our European allies to find and seize your yachts, your luxury apartments, your private jets," Biden said in his State of The Union address on March 1. "We are coming for your ill-begotten gains."

Since the US is not in "armed conflict" with Russia it may be legally tricky to seize assets like yachts, Insider reported . 

"The threshold for seizing assets under sanctions is that the US has to be in armed conflict with the owner of the assets," Brian O'Toole, an economic sanctions expert, tweeted last Friday. "The idea of turning Russian corruption into Ukrainian assistance is lovely but this idea is illegal, period."

It can also be difficult to find out who the owners of these yachts are.

Offshore companies typically own the luxury vessels, but enough "public speculation" pointing to a Russian oligarch as an owner is likely "sufficient for a seizure," Insider reported . 

Many of the oligarchs moved their yachts to places where they can't be seized, such as the Maldives, which does not have an extradition treaty with the US.

Insider has compiled a list of photos with mega yachts linked to Russian oligarchs.

Galactica Super Nova

russian oil tycoon yacht

Amid sanctions and seizures targeting Russian billionaires, Galactica Super Nova — said to be linked to the CEO of Russian oil firm Lukoil — is no longer detectable via ship tracker site MarineTraffic , The Daily Beast reported Thursday. 

The superyacht — whose owner is named Vagit Alekperov — had just been in Montenegro last week, Insider reported .

Alekperov is not currently the target of any sanctions. 

The yacht is almost 230 feet long and can hold up to 12 guests and 16 crew members, according to the ship maker Heesen Yachts .

The ship also has a helicopter pad that can turn into an outdoor movie theatre, also according to the ship maker.

The Amore Vero

russian oil tycoon yacht

France seized Amore Vero, a 281-foot megayacht linked to oligarch and politician Igor Sechin, on March 3.

The yacht, Amore Vero, is estimated to have a value of $120 million . It has a swimming pool that doubles as a helicopter pad and a private deck for its owner, according to Oceana , the ship maker.

Per The Wall Street Journal , officials believe that Amore Vero is "owned by a company whose majority shareholder was Mr. Sechin," though the outlet does not provide the name of the company.

Sechin is the CEO of Rosneft, Russia's oil giant, and a former deputy prime minister. A known Putin ally , he was sanctioned by both the EU and the US before France seized his yacht last week .

Sechin was one of seven oligarchs sanctioned by the UK on Thursday. 

People in Russia have referred to Sechin as "Darth Vader" and "the scariest man on Earth," according to The Guardian .

russian oil tycoon yacht

Alisher Usmanov has been sanctioned by the EU, the US, the UK, and Switzerland. His boat remains in Germany, but the country says it hasn't seized it.

Usmanov's Dilbar is "is the largest motor yacht in the world by gross tonnage," according to Lürssen , the German ship's maker.

It's 512-foot long and weighs 15,917 tons. The ship has been docked in Germany for months undergoing a "refitting," but last week Forbes reported that it was unable to leave the dock.

Germany, however, has denied that it formally seized Dilbar.

Forbes said that "the German federal customs agency is the 'responsible enforcement authority' and would have to issue an export waiver for the yacht to leave, and that 'no yacht leaves port that is not allowed to do so.'" 

Still, multiple outlets reported that Usmanov has fired the crew on the Dilbar.

The Uzbekistan-born oligarch is a supporter of Putin. 

"I am proud that I know Putin, and the fact that everybody does not like him is not Putin's problem," Usmanov told Forbes  in a 2010 interview. 

russian oil tycoon yacht

Suleyman Kerimov was sanctioned by the US, and his son, Said Kerimov, owns ICE. The superyacht is worth is an estimated $170 million.

The Kerimov family owns the majority of Polyus Gold, Russia's biggest gold producer .

ICE was dubbed "Superyacht of the Year" in 2006 at the World Super Yacht Awards, according to Boat International . It is approximately 300 feet and has its own resident helicopter, according to Club Yacht .

Quantum Blue

russian oil tycoon yacht

Sergey Galitsky's ship, Quantum Blue, has an estimated value of $250 million and is last known to be docked in Monaco.

Galitsky is the founder of one of Russia's largest supermarket chains, Magnit.

His name is not currently on the list of sanctioned Russian oligarchs,

russian oil tycoon yacht

Though he also is not the target of any current sanctions, Vladimir Potanin's superyacht, Nirvana, is one of at least four ships docked in the Maldives .

Potanin is the Former First Deputy Prime Minister of Russia and was a longtime trustee for the Guggenheim museum before stepping down on March 2, according to The New York Times . 

Nirvana is not Potanin's only superyacht, he also owns another named Barbara, according to Fortune .

Alexander Abramov's Titan, Alexei Mordashovis' Nord, and Oleg Deripaska's Clio are also located in the Maldives.

russian oil tycoon yacht

At 533 feet long, Roman Abramovich's Eclipse was the largest yacht on the globe until 2013 when the 590-foot Azzam overthrew it. 

Abramovich, once Russia's richest man , is the departing owner of Chelsea FC soccer club. He was sanctioned by the UK on Thursday along with six other oligarchs, Insider reported .

The luxury boat has a host of amenities, including two helicopter pads, a missile detection system, and a swimming pool more than 50 feet long. It also has space for up to 36 guests and 70 crew members, according to Yacht Harbour .

Insider previously reported that it is currently docked in the Caribbean .

russian oil tycoon yacht

Another yacht named Solaris is linked to Abramovich. The vessel, worth approximately $600 million, left Spain Tuesday after having been under repair since late 2021, Insider reported.

Solaris is 460 feet and can host a total of 36 guests, according to SuperYachtFan .

russian oil tycoon yacht

Tango, owned by the US-sanctioned Viktor Vekselberg, is currently located in Palma, Spain.

Tango can host up to 14 people and is 254 feet long, won the 2012 World Superyacht Awards, and has an estimated worth of $120 million, according to SuperYachtFan .

Vekselberg is a Ukrainian-born businessman who owns Renova, a Russian conglomerate, according to The Guardian .

He was one of nearly two dozen Russian oligarchs and officials that the US sanctioned on Friday.

The US Treasury Department claims that he has close ties with Putin, and has announced that assets such as his $90 million jet and his superyacht Tango have been frozen, Insider reported .

russian oil tycoon yacht

Graceful, a yacht reported to belong to Russian President Vladimir Putin, left Germany just before his invasion of Ukraine, Insider reported in early February.

—Manu Gómez (@GDarkconrad) February 9, 2022

Graceful is 270 feet long and has a saloon, gym, spa, library, and an indoor pool nearly 50 feet long that doubles as a dance floor.

Scheherazade

russian oil tycoon yacht

A mystery yacht remains untouched as the owner remains a mystery.

The owner of the 459-foot Scheherazade is suspected to be a Russian billionaire, though the owner was never publically identified, The New York Times reported .

Many people believe it belongs to Vladimir Putin, nicknaming the vessel "Putin's Yacht."

SuperYachtFan estimates the ship's value sits at $700 million.

Stella Maris

russian oil tycoon yacht

Stella Maris is linked to oil and gas tycoon Rashid Sardarov. It was last seen in Nice, France, according to The Washington Post .

The luxury vessel is priced at $75 million, is 237 feet long, and can hold up to 14 guests, per SuperYachtFan .

Sardarov is not being sanctioned. 

Sailing Yacht A

russian oil tycoon yacht

Sailing Yacht A is believed to belong to Andrey Melnichenko. The boat was seized by Spanish officials Saturday, Reuters reported .

The ship is more than 465 feet long and can hold up to 20 guests, according to SuperYachtFan . The website says that Sailing Yacht A also features an underwater observation area and has a value of more than $500 million.

Melnichenko is an EU-sanctioned Russian billionaire who works in coal and fertilizers, according to Forbes . The magazine also reported that he owns a second yacht, Motor Yacht A, which is similar to a submarine. 

russian oil tycoon yacht

Oligarch Gennady Timchenko's superyacht "Lena" was seized in the port of Sanremo, Italy on March 5, Reuters reported.

Timchenko is the owner of a private investment group, Volga Group and a shareholder of Bank Rossiya. The oligarch has been sanctioned by the EU, which describes him as a "long-time acquaintance of the President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin."

Timchenko was also sanctioned by the UK on February 22. 

The superyacht is valued at around 50 million euros ($54 million), Reuters reported. It has fold-down terraces, as well as an "owner's suite" which opens out onto the sea with "gull-wing doors," according to its manufacturer, Sanlorenzo.

russian oil tycoon yacht

Italian authorities also seized a $71 million super-yacht belonging to one of the wealthiest men in Russia , Alexei Mordashov. 

The 215-ft "Lady M" superyacht was seized in the Port of Imperia, northern Italy, a source confirmed to Reuters.

The yacht can accommodate up to six guests on and also has accommodation for four crew members, per the Superyacht Times .

The oligarch, who is the chairman of steel mining company, Severstal, has also been sanctioned by the EU, which says Mordashov is "benefiting from his links with Russian decision-makers." Mordashov has insisted he has "absolutely nothing to do" with Russia's attack on Ukraine. 

The Oligarch moved $1.3 billion worth of shares in travel company, TUI, to an offshore tax haven on the day he was hit by sanctions, Insider's Huileng Tan previously reported. 

He was also added to the UK government's sanctions list on March 15.

russian oil tycoon yacht

Some superyachts belonging to Russian billionaires are currently seeking refuge in the Maldives, including a yacht owned by billionaire Oleg Deripaska, Reuters reported.

The billionaire, who is also the founder of one of Russia's largest industrial groups, Basic Element, was added to the UK's sanctions list on March 10.

Also built by Lürssen, the superyacht - which is around 238 feet long - can accommodate 18 guests in nine cabins, per Superyacht Fan.

russian oil tycoon yacht

The superyacht Valerie - worth $140 million - was seized in Barcelona on Monday, Spanish Prime Minister, Pedro Sanchez, said on La Sexta television, per Reuters.  

Sanchez did not confirm the owner of the yacht, but two sources confirmed to Reuters that it belonged to Sergei Chemezov, who is said to be a close ally of Putin.

The oligarch, who was previously a KGB spy with Putin in the former Soviet Union, recently said that Russia would emerge victorious from Western sanctions, Reuters previously reported . 

Chemezov, who is the CEO of Russian defense conglomerate Rostec was added to the US sanctions list on March 3. 

His yacht is 279 feet long and can accommodate 17 guests in eight suites, per Superyacht Fan.

russian oil tycoon yacht

Crescent, most likely owned by Igor Sechin but also rumored to belong to Putin, was the third yacht Spain seized as the West ramps up sanctions, The Washington Post reported Thursday.

The superyacht is 443-feet long and costs an estimated $600 million, according to  SuperyachtFan, which also says the vessel hosts a retractable helicopter hangar and a large pool with a glass bottom.

Lady Anastasia

russian oil tycoon yacht

Lady Anastasia is owned by Russian oligarch Alexander Mikheyev but was seized by Spain on Tuesday, according to Reuters . 

The boat is almost 160 feet long and can hold up to 10 guests, according to Yacht Harbour .

Mikheyev, who was sanctioned by the EU, is the head of a helicopters division under Rostec, New York Mag reported .

russian oil tycoon yacht

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A sleek, black-hulled superyacht at anchor in a bay ringed by hills, photographed from water level, with a small sailing dinghy in the foreground

Revealed: Russia-linked superyachts ‘going dark’ to avoid sanctions threat

Vessels with ties to Russian oligarchs hit by sanctions are no longer reporting their position to an automatic global locator

I n the sparkling azure waters of Antigua, the gleaming £95m superyacht Alfa Nero could be seen at anchor last week by sightseers enjoying the Caribbean coastline. But few of the tourists who spotted its sleek black hull would have appreciated that it was quite a find.

Since the invasion of Ukraine , the superyacht, which is linked to the Russian billionaire Andrey Guryev, has vanished off the global tracking maps used to locate marine traffic.

An investigation by the Observer this weekend reveals it is one of at least six superyachts linked to UK-sanctioned oligarchs which have “gone dark” on ocean tracking systems. The owners of these yachts will almost certainly realise they are at risk of being targeted in a global hunt for the assets of Russia’s super-rich.

At least 13 such vessels with a total value of nearly £2bn have already been impounded since the invasion of Ukraine, from southern France to Fiji. In the latter case, the superyacht Amadea, allegedly linked to the gold billionaire Suleiman Kerimov, was seized on behalf of the US .

Analysts report an increase in Russian-linked yachts which are turning off the automatic identification system (AIS) equipment used for tracking large vessels. The system can be turned off for legitimate reasons, but experts believe some vessels want to avoid detection.

An analysis by the Observer of AIS data compiled by the maritime and aviation market intelligence firm VesselsValue reveals other superyachts which have “gone dark” for more than a month include:

The 72-metre (238ft) superyacht Clio, linked to industrialist Oleg Deripaska, which sailed from the Indian Ocean to Turkey after the invasion. Its last transmitted location was on 18 April in the Black Sea, within range of the Russian ports of Sochi and Novorossiysk.

The 70-metre Galactica Super Nova, linked to the oligarch Vagit Alekperov, the sanctioned former president of Lukoil. The last transmitted location of the vessel was on 2 March off the Croatian coast.

The 140-metre Ocean Victory, linked to the sanctioned oligarch Viktor Rashnikov, which last transmitted its location at anchor in the Maldives on 1 March.

One member of crew on a superyacht linked to a Russian oligarch sanctioned by the UK told the Observer last week: “We were told to turn off the AIS. We removed the screws on the power plug and pulled it out.”

There are about 9,300 superyachts on the seas, worth more than £50bn, according to industry data. An estimated 10% of that fleet is owned by Russians.

The rear deck of a superyacht with a striking overhanging glazed canopy, through which a wide stream of water is falling into a small swimming pool below

One of the first superyachts to be impounded was the 86-metre Amore Vero, linked to the oil tycoon Igor Sechin , which was seized by customs officers at a shipyard at La Ciotat, near Marseille, on 2 March.

Italian authorities also impounded the 143-metre Sailing Yacht A on 12 March in Trieste. It is believed to be owned by the billionaire entrepreneur Andrey Melnichenko. He was sanctioned by the UK on 15 March.

Melnichenko’s other superyacht, the futuristic £240m Motor Yacht A, has disappeared from global tracking system. Its last confirmed location was on 10 March in the Maldives.

The last recorded location of the Alfa Nero on AIS was in the Caribbean on 3 March, when it was anchored at Philipsburg in Sint Maarten. The yacht is operating on a skeleton crew and has put its tender, the Alfa Fish, into storage.

Guryev, 62, a Russian who made his fortune with the Russian fertiliser giant PhosAgro, is reported by maritime sources to be the owner of the vessel. He was revealed to have bought London’s largest private residence, the 25-bedroom mansion Witanhurst, for £50m in 2008.

He has regularly enjoyed sailing on the Alfa Nero. The vessel is also used by his family, including his son (also Andrey) and his son’s wife, Valeria, who studied at the London College of Fashion and once reportedly stated on Instagram that she was “too pretty for work”. Like many yachts, it is owned via an opaque offshore structure, and Guryev has denied being the owner.

Other yachts which have not been tracked by AIS for more than a month include the Galactica Super Nova, which has a glass-bottomed swimming pool with a waterfall. It left Tivat in Montenegro on 2 March and promptly disappeared off the system.

The Clio, linked to Deripaska, sailed more than 3,000 miles after the invasion, from the Maldives, through the Suez Canal, across the Mediterranean and into the Bosphorus, gateway to the Black Sea and its Russian ports. In the Clio’s case, one reason it may have gone dark could be the perilous situation in the Black Sea arising from the war.

Futuristic white superyacht with several decks tied up at a quayside

Other yachts which have not transmitted a confirmed location via AIS for at least a month include the My Sky, linked to the cigarette tycoon Igor Kesaev, which last reported its location in the Maldives on 30 March. The Maldives has no extradition treaty with the US, and at least five yachts linked to Russian owners have headed for its waters since the invasion. Other vessels, including two owned by Roman Abramovich, have headed to Turkey.

Under maritime rules, AIS should always be in operation when ships are under way or at anchor. All vessels of 300 gross tonnage and upwards must be fitted with it. A cruising vessel will typically transmit its location frequently, but it can turn the system off when in port. The data is relayed by radio receivers and satellites.

Sam Tucker at VesselsValue said: “There are some vessels where we would be previously getting a signal every few minutes from transponders and we are now seeing gaps of months. It’s very likely that some have flicked off the switch and gone into stealth mode.”

None of the sanctioned oligarchs linked to the six superyachts suspected of turning off their AIS responded to a request for comment.

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16 superyachts owned by Russian oligarchs

Western sanctions over moscow's invasion of ukraine led to many luxury vessels being detained in europe.

Two superyachts linked to Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich were spotted on the Turkish coast on Tuesday, 'Eclipse' and 'My Solaris'. Mr Abramovich is among several wealthy Russians added to an EU blacklist as governments act to seize their yachts and other luxury assets. AP

Two superyachts linked to Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich were spotted on the Turkish coast on Tuesday, 'Eclipse' and 'My Solaris'. Mr Abramovich is among several wealthy Russians added to an EU blacklist as governments act to seize their yachts and other luxury assets. AP

Jamie Goodwin author image

Live updates: follow the latest news on Russia-Ukraine

Several luxury yachts owned by wealthy Russians have been detained across Europe this month.

It comes after the West imposed sanctions on oligarchs over Moscow's invasion of Ukraine .

Some have taken evasive action – two such superyachts linked to billionaire Roman Abramovich were spotted approaching the Turkish coast on Tuesday. A group of Ukrainians tried to stop one of the yachts from docking in Turkey.

Chelsea FC owner Mr Abramovich is one of several oligarchs who were added to an EU blacklist last week as governments acted to seize yachts and other luxury assets owned by the billionaires.

Western sanctions resulted in many large vessels relocating from Europe in the past few weeks. Several have headed to places such as the Maldives, which have no extradition treaty with the US.

Where is the Abramovich-owned yacht heading?

Mr Abramovich's yacht Eclipse was seen heading towards Marmaris on Tuesday, according to data compiled by monitoring site Marine Traffic, which was seen by Reuters.

The previous day, his superyacht Solaris was moored in Bodrum, about 80 kilometres from Marmaris, data showed, after skirting waters of EU countries.

There was no suggestion Mr Abramovich was on board either of the yachts.

Ukrainians attempt to stop Abramovich's yacht docking in Turkey

Ukrainians attempt to stop Abramovich's yacht docking in Turkey

Which yachts have been detained?

On Monday, a superyacht linked to another Russian billionaire was detained by authorities after docking in Gibraltar.

The Axioma , believed to belong to Dmitrievich Pumpyansky, moored at Gibraltar on the southern tip of the Iberian Peninsula, Reuters TV footage showed.

Mr Pumpyansky, who is under UK and EU sanctions, owns Russia's largest steel pipe maker TMK. Data shows the 72-metre vessel is owned by a British Virgin Islands holding company called Pyrene investments, Reuters reported. An article published as part of the Panama Papers leaks names Mr Pumpyansky as a beneficiary of the holding.

On March 12, the world's biggest sailing yacht, called Sailing Yacht A and owned by Russian billionaire Andrey Igorevich Melnichenko , was seized by Italian police.

Several other luxury yachts have also been detained across Europe, including in Gibraltar, Mallorca in Spain's Balearic Islands and the French coast.

Here are 16 superyachts linked to wealthy Russians

1. Eclipse , a superyacht linked to sanctioned Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich , was this week spotted heading in the direction of Marmaris in Turkey.

2. Solaris , belonging to Mr Abramovich , moored in Bodrum at the start of the week.

3. The Axioma superyacht, belonging to Russian oligarch Dmitrievich Pumpyansky , who is on the EU's list of sanctioned Russians, was detained by authorities after docking in Gibraltar on Monday.

4. The Crescent , which was seized by the Spanish government in Tarragona, Spain, on March 17. The ship's owner is not publicly known, although it is believed to belong to Russian Igor Sechin, head of Rosneft Oil in Moscow.

5. Ragnar , owned by former KGB officer and Russian oligarch Vladimir Strzhalkovsky, who is not on the EU sanctions list.

6. Tango , owned by Russian billionaire Viktor Vekselberg, who was sanctioned by the US on March 11.

7. Lady Anastasia , owned by Russian arms manufacturer Alexander Mijeev, is retained at Port Adriano, Mallorca, as a result of sanctions against Russia and Belarus issued by the European Union.

8. Valerie was seized by the Spanish government in Barcelona, Spain, on March 15. Spanish newspaper El Pais reported that the ship is linked to Rostec State Corporation’s chief executive Sergey Chemezov.

9. The $578 million Sailing Yacht A owned by Russian billionaire Andrey Igorevich Melnichenko was seized by Italian police in the port of Trieste on March 12.

10. The 156-metre Dilbar superyacht is owned by Russian billionaire Alisher Usmanov.

11. La Datcha belongs to Russian billionaire businessman Oleg Tinkov.

12. Lady M , owned by Russian oligarch Alexei Mordashov, was seized by Italian police on March 5.

13. Amore Vero was seized in the Mediterranean resort of La Ciotat on March 3 by French authorities. The yacht is linked to Igor Sechin, a Putin ally who runs the Russian oil giant Rosneft.

14. Quantum Blue , owned by a company linked to Russian billionaire Sergei Galitsky, the head of Russian oil giant Rosneft, was seized in southern France on March 3.

15. Superyacht Luna is owned by Russian billionaire Farkhad Akhmedov.

16. Triple Seven is owned by Russian billionaire Alexander Abramov, according to media reports. The yacht was last up for sale in 2020 for €38 million ($41.85 million).

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Russian oil tycoon wins back megayacht LUNA in divorce battle

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By Katia Damborsky   2 April 2019

The saga over the ownership of 115m/377ft superyacht LUNA continues, with Russian billionaire Farkhad Akhmedov winning back ownership of his $436 million megayacht in Dubai .

It is being reported that LUNA has been released by a court in Dubai, after she was impounded in the waters of the UAE as part of a freezing order more than a year ago. 

On Wednesday, the Dubai court of appeal declared that the ruling made to impound the yacht was incorrect, and LUNA must be now be released and allowed to leave port. This means that ownership of LUNA now sits with Farkhad Akhmedov.

The freezing order was issued in Britain after Akhmedov did not pay a $594 million divorce settlement to his now-ex-wife Tatiana, claiming the pair were legally divorced in Russia many years earlier. 

Aerial image of megayacht LUNA underway

In August 2018, YachtCharterFleet reported that Tatiana retained ownership of the yacht after a court in Dubai upheld a ruling made by the London High Court.

However, Akhmdeov’s appeal process has ended in his favour, with the Azerbaijan-born oil and gas tycoon holding now holding ownership of the megayacht.  A spokesperson for Akhmedov has said "Mr Akhmedov is delighted but not surprised by today's court decision in favour of the Akhmedov family trust.”

Mr Akhmedov is delighted but not surprised by today's court decision in favour of the Akhmedov family trust. Spokesperson for Mr. Akhmedov

Luxury yacht LUNA came into the picture in 2014, when she was bought by the oligarch from friend and Chelsea football club owner Roman Abramovich. She holds the crown for the world’s largest expedition yacht, boasting nine decks after an additional one was added in a £50m refit in 2016.

At 115m, she is home to the largest swimming pool on any superyacht in the world, as well as two helipads, a spa, gym and a dance floor. A beach club, a jacuzzi and a tender garage to house a vast array of water toys are among her superb repertoire of amenities. She was launched in 2010 by Lloyd-Werft. 

Owner's cabin on megayacht LUNA

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