Maintaining the seized superyachts is becoming a huge problem for Italy, from scraping the hulls of the mammoth vessels daily to constantly running the air-conditioning units to paying the crew. Officials are now worried that these costs may exceed the value of the vessels.

The $700 million Scheherazade megayacht has been seized and docked in the small Italian town of Marina di Carrara since March of 2022.

Yachts have been called superyachts for a reason. They are super luxurious vessels owned by super-rich billionaires. While governments fervently seized these pleasure crafts, it was only a matter of months before they realized that maintaining the ships was indeed suited to deep-pocketed tycoons. Several European nations impounded the multi-million-dollar floating palaces of Russian oligarchs. Italian enforcement officials alone have seized at least four yachts and 20 luxury homes, as well as cars, artwork, and other precious objects since spring 2022, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The $600 million Super Yacht A was seized in March of 2022, ever since the Italian government has been footing a monthly bill of $1.1 million just to maintain the designer yacht.

Last year, the Italian government allocated nearly $15 million to cover urgent maintenance costs for yachts and villas. “Our problems are the yachts,” said an Italian official. “If the war continues… the running costs could potentially exceed their actual value.”When it comes to megayachts, in particular, the bigger the vessel, the more amenities and upkeep costs it entails.

The 215 feet long Lady M belonging to one of the most affluent and wealthy Russian businessman Alexei Mordashov was seized in May of 2022.

Regularly scraping their hulls and burning thousands of dollars worth of fuel for daily air-conditioning, crew salaries, insurance, and docking charges are the most basic expenses. For the layperson, the best way to estimate how much it costs to keep a massive megayacht is nearly 10% of its value per year to maintain. According to a Reuters story published in September 2023, Italy’s GDP shrank by 0.4% in the second quarter compared to the first.

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Lady Lena allegedly belongs to Russian businessman Gennady Timchenko.

The Italian brain trust Prometeia has stated that the Italian economy is currently experiencing a stagnation phase, although it does not foresee a “full-blown recession.” Despite this economic situation, the Italian government is paying $275,000 weekly for the upkeep of Russia’s richest man, Andrey Melnichenko’s seized $580 million vessel, Sailing Yacht A.

Made by Lurssen the Scheherazade is one of the biggest and luxurious yachts in the world.

Incidentally, the designer Sailing Yacht A is not the biggest vessel seized by Italy. That title belongs to the $700 million Scheherazade superyacht last year. Allegedly, a mystery owner footed the bill for the refit and maintenance, as well as the vessel’s staff, while the 460-footer sat in the Tuscan port of Marina di Carrara. Italian officials also impounded the $71 million superyacht Lady M, which belongs to Alexei Mordashov, and the $55 million Lady Lena, an exquisite 171-footer Sanlorenzo vessel. Together, their value exceeds $1.4 billion, and considering the annual 10 percent maintenance charge, the nation needs to allocate $140 million for just these four vessels.

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The Italian authorities have seized multiple properties belonging to sanctioned oligarchs in Lake Como, Tuscany, Sardinia and the Ligurian coast. Via Unsplash / @morank

The law stipulates that countries responsible for the seized boats must return them in shipshape condition, not as shadows of their former selves. The only other option is to allow the owners to pay for the upkeep, but even that choice is entangled in complications. Sanctioned owners cannot use the financial system to transfer funds without special government permission. Obtaining these permissions can take up to two years or more, during which time the government continues to cover these enormous bills.

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With over 15 years of experience in luxury journalism, Neha Tandon Sharma is a notable senior writer at Luxurylaunches. Her expertise spans luxury yachts, high-end fashion, and celebrity culture. Beyond writing, her passion for fantasy series is evident. Beginning with articles on women-centric gadgets, she's now a leading voice in luxury, with a fondness for opulent superyachts. To date, her portfolio boasts more than 2 million words, often penned alongside a cappuccino.