Italy Seizes $700M Megayacht With Links to Putin

Scheherazade, 2019 (file image courtesy DrDuu / CC BY SA 4.0)

Published May 6, 2022 7:05 PM by The Maritime Executive

The government of Italy has seized the megayacht Scheherazade in connection with EU sanctions on Russia, bringing an end to months of speculation about the vessel's fate. 

Scheherazade has long been rumored to be the property of Russian President Vladimir Putin, though no definitive proof has been released. Her majority-Russian crew drew local attention in Marina di Carrara, where she is moored, and even more attention when they all left following the invasion of Ukraine. Researchers working for Russian politician Alexei Navalny claim to have obtained records that suggest that half of Scheherazade's crew were employed by Putin's personal security service, the FSO.

According to Italian media,  investigators believe that the beneficial owner is former Rosneft executive Eduard Khudainatov, an oil magnate and associate of Putin. Khudainatov is not explicitly named on any sanctions list.

The announcement by Italy's finance ministry said only that its investigators had found "significant economic and business links of the beneficial owner of the boat Scheherazade with prominent elements of the Russian government," without naming the owner.

A ministry spokesman told the Washington Post that the asset seizure was provisional, and that Italy has asked the European Council to add the owner's name to the Ukraine invasion sanctions list. 

At 460 feet in length, Scheherazade is among the largest private yachts in the world. It is equipped with six cabins, a Turkish bath, 22 cabins, a crew complement of 94 and an indoor swimming pool. It is owned by a holding company in the Marshall Islands, managed in Monaco and flagged in the Cayman Islands.