Suleiman Kerimov’s opulent $325 million vessel, the Amadea, has returned to the spotlight, and a riveting drama accompanies it. After the dramatic seizure of this majestic 348-foot yacht in Fiji in May 2022, the U.S. Justice Department made an official move on Monday, 23rd October 2023, embarking on a quest to claim ownership of the vessel.
Currently moored in San Diego, their intention is to auction it and direct the proceeds towards Ukraine. In the civil forfeiture claim, filed in a federal court in New York, the office of U.S. Attorney Damian Williams stated that the Amadea is “beneficially owned” by the billionaire, whose net worth according to Bloomberg is estimated at a staggering $7.5 billion.
They assert that the “superyacht was enhanced and maintained in violation of the applicable sanctions against Kerimov and those acting on his behalf.” This was substantiated by Kerimov’s direct involvement in various upgrades to the yacht, including installing a lavish new pizza oven. However, this is the Amadea Superyacht we’re talking about, and it always seems to harbor a twist in its wake.
While the U.S. is fervently pursuing the sanctioned Russian billionaire Suleiman Kerimov to relinquish his floating palace, another unsanctioned Russian luminary, the former head of Russian oil giant Rosneft, has thrown a spanner in the works. Eduard Khudainatov boldly claims to be the true owner of the Amadea and vehemently denies ever selling his prized possession to Kerimov.
To underscore his assertion, Khudainatov, labeled a “straw owner” by the Department of Justice, filed federal court papers in San Diego on Sunday night, asserting his unassailable ownership of the Amadea. On the other side of the coin, the United States has laid out unequivocal plans for the yacht, which currently calls San Diego its home. Their strategy involves a probable auction of the vessel, with the resulting proceeds earmarked for Ukraine.
The 348-footer has languished in San Diego’s harbor since June, and the burden of its upkeep now falls on American taxpayers. Bloomberg stated that the docking fees for Amadea was a minimum of $1,000 a day. The annual cost of the vessel’s upkeep was a minimum of $10 million annually. That also explains why the U.S is eager to auction this mammoth-of-a-mansion.
The auction of this magnificent six-deck vessel, boasting a double-height atrium, a resplendent Pleyel grand piano, walls adorned with leather-bound books, and a sprawling dining table, will not only recoup damages but also provide much-needed support to war-ravaged Ukraine. Till the Amadea remains in the United States, the authorities will have to spend millions just for the basic maintenance of the vessel. This entails round-the-clock air conditioning to prevent rust and mold from ruining her interiors. The propellers have to be run once in a while to prevent the buildup of barnacles.
With ultra-expensive artwork and furnishings, regular cleaning has to be ensured to avoid dirt accumulation. Then there are the electronics and gadgets, according to Boat International, the private terrace of the owners cabin alone has 2,000 fiber optic cables that recreate all the zodiac signs with the twinkling effect. The interiors in all have a total of 6,500 gadgets, right from a crane to pick up the Teppanyaki grill to iPad-controlled curtain blinds. The exterior, too has to be maintained, which would require a multimillion-dollar repaint job.
The Lurssen-built vessel is nothing short of a floating palace with features that include ceilings adorned with Michelangelo-inspired clouds, a fully-equipped movie theater, a large infinity pool, and a dedicated party deck. ‘While there was skepticism earlier of who would be willing to buy a seized superyacht, the auction of Alfa Nero changed that.’ said Sean Crasto an independent yacht consultant based in Nice, France.
‘A superyacht takes anywhere between 4-6 years to build. A 340-footer luxury laden yacht like the Amadea can easily fetch around $200 million if auctioned’ said Sean. The complex legal battle is currently under the jurisdiction of the Office’s Money Laundering and Transnational Criminal Enterprises Unit, in collaboration with various other divisions. It is spearheaded by Assistant U.S. Attorney Sarah Mortazavi, alongside Trial Attorneys Joshua L. Sohn and Andrew D. Beaty.
It’s important to note that in simpler terms, a civil forfeiture complaint remains an allegation until proven in a court of law. This uncertainty adds an intriguing layer to the question of where Amadea’s course will ultimately lead – will it find its way into the hands of another Russian magnate, or will it be successfully auctioned to a fortunate new owner?