Russian yacht owners are encountering rough seas around the world as nations sympathetic to Ukraine’s plight press sanctions that include impounding assets of Russia’s wealthy class.
World leaders hope harsh economic sanctions that target Vladimir Putin’s inner circle of oligarchs could apply pressure on the Russian president to end his brutal military assault on Ukraine.
Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi says his country froze assets totaling hundreds of millions of dollars belonging or linked to several Russian oligarchs as part of sanctions imposed over Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.
Yachts are not sailing under Draghi’s radar. Italy announced Saturday that it had seized a $580 million superyacht linked to Russian energy and fertilizer magnate Andrey Igorevich Melnichenko. The sail-assisted, motorized “SYA” – or Sailing Yacht A – was seized on Friday in the northeastern port of Trieste.
Melnichenko doth protest, his spokesman saying Melnichenko has nothing to do with the war and thus should not be on the sanctions list. Among the world’s largest yachts, his SYA is 469-feet long, or more than 1.5 football fields. It has eight decks and an underwater observation area with foot-thick glass.
The size and value of SYA dwarfs some other Italian targets, but they are not exactly dinghies. A yacht belonging to metals tycoon Alexei Mordashov, believed to be Russia’s richest man, was impounded more than a week ago in the northern Italian port of Imperia. “Lady M,” made in the U.S. is 215-feet long and has six luxury state rooms. Estimates of its value vary but have climbed as high as $70 million.
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Billionaire investment guru Gennady Timshenko did not escape unscathed. His yacht Lena, a mere 126-feet long, was seized on the northeastern coastal city of San Remo.
Italy has been aggressive, but other European nations have proved unwilling to provide safe ports in the financial storm. Alisher Usmanov, who made his money in cellphones and copper, gave up his $600 million, 500-foot yacht Dilbar in Hamburg, Germany. Modest accommodations he can no longer enjoy include a 25-meter swimming pool and two helipads.
The $120 million, 280-foot-long Amore Vero was seized by France in the Mediterranean port of La Ciotat. It has been linked to Igor Sechin, CEO of the Russian state oil company.
Europe is clearly taking to heart President Joe Biden’s statement warning to the Russian wealthy during his State of the Union Address.
“We are joining with our European allies to find and seize your yachts, your luxury apartments, your private jets,” Biden said in his address. “We are coming for your ill-begotten gains.”