Oh, how the mighty have fallen! After weeks of investigation, Italian authorities announced late Friday evening that they had impounded the $700 million superyacht Scheherazade. While it is still not directly linked to Russian president Putin, there is evidence that connects the Scheherazade to senior members of the Russian government. Since September, the 460 feet Lürssen yacht has been undergoing a refit at a shipyard in Tuscany.
The order for its seizure came in amid fears that the vessel was about to leave the shipyard in Marina di Carrara. The Italian economy minister, Daniele Franco, signed an order blocking the superyacht without wasting time. While no one name has been declared yet, the owner’s description gives away his identity.
Words like “significant economic and business links, “an individual threatened peace and international security,” and the individual’s actions amounted to the “undermining or threatening the territorial integrity, sovereignty, and independence of Ukraine” are clearly hinting at someone particular. An official statement has been released on the website of the Italian government. For now, Italian authorities can not divulge the luxury ship’s owner; not until the European Council publishes the name. The ship’s British captain, Guy Bennett-Pearce, completely denied any connection to Putin, telling the New York Times, ‘I have never seen him. I have never met him.’
Similarly, a former Scheherazade crew member told The New York Times that he had never heard of Mr. Khudainatov, a Russian oil tycoon onboard, putting to rest rumors of Scheherazade being owned by him. By his admission, crew members always believed and discussed the actual owner to be Mr. Putin.
Was Scheherazade superyacht planning to escape?
Scheherazade, the 12th vessel in the world by size, is even more expensive than Roman Abramovich’s much-talked-about Eclipse and Solaris luxury yachts. Much newer than these megayachts, it was delivered by Lurssen in 2020 where it remained in the Tuscan port of Marina di Carrara for months till Italian authorities investigated its ownership. Had the beneficiary been found on the sanctions list, the 460-foot ship would have been seized. Rumor mills went abuzz that the owner planned to show no such obedience and wait for investigations to end.
The vessel indicated it was preparing for a voyage as it refueled, resupplied, and refloated, and with the protective screen removed, there was little left to the imagination. But fate and cautious Italian officials left nothing to chance. They finally boarded the yacht after speedily completing the complex investigation and clearing a rambling web of company names concealing the actual owner. They informed the crew that the ship was not going anywhere.
The beauty of the magnificent $700 million megayacht Scheherazade:
This megayacht was built without any hoopla around it; a feat in itself. The opulent 460 ft. floating palace looks imposing with two helipads and outrageously luxe amenities. Divided among six sprawling decks are several swimming pools, a spa, a sauna, a theatre, ballrooms, and a gym. The tiled dance floor lowers to turn into a pool. The only other yacht to flaunt a similar feature is Putin’s ship Graceful.
Another giveaway is an onboard hospital to keep Putin’s health in check. In addition to the above, Scheherazade can host as many as 18 guests and a crew. Guests will find a cinema, several entertainment areas, and a distinguished beach club aft inside the ship. A drone crashing system is among the high-tech security systems that ensure maximum privacy.