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U.S. Marshals Spend $600,000 a Month to Maintain Seized Russian Yacht

Amadea departs Fiji with an American flag on the stern, 2022 (U.S. Department of Justice)
Amadea departs Fiji with an American flag on the stern, 2022 (U.S. Department of Justice)

Published Feb 13, 2024 11:13 PM by The Maritime Executive

The Department of Justice has asked to sell off a Russian megayacht that was seized in 2022, even though there is an active lawsuit contesting its ownership. The government's carrying cost for maintaining it is so "excessive," according to the DOJ, that it makes more sense to sell the vessel sooner rather than later.

The vessel in question is the Amadea, a 350-foot megayacht built in Germany in 2016. U.S. authorities believe that her beneficial owner is Suleiman Kerimov, a billionaire with ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin. The U.S. Treasury placed Kerimov on its Specially Designated Nationals (SDN) sanctions list in 2018.

According to the U.S. Marshals Service, which is tasked with maintaining Amadea pending a future sale, the vessel costs about $600,000 a month in upkeep. This includes $360,000 for crew salaries; $75,000 per month for fuel; and about $165,000 for maintenance, food, trash and other expenses. 

In addition, the vessel's annual insurance premium comes to $1.75 million, and the next drydocking is expected to cost another $5.6 million. The vessel's value is estimated at about $300 million. 

The case has traveled a long way. When Amadea entered Fijian jurisdiction in April 2022, the U.S. filed a request for her seizure with local courts. Fiji's High Court ultimately ruled in favor of the American request, and Amadea departed Fijian waters under FBI custody. 

Lawyers for the vessel's holding company, Millemarin Investments, claim that she is owned by former Rosneft executive Eduard Khudainatov - not Kerimov. Khudainatov is not sanctioned, so (if true) his ownership would remove the government's claim to the vessel. 

However, American authorities suspect that Khudainatov is actually a straw owner for wealthier, more powerful Russian oligarchs who wish to conceal their assets. U.S. officials claim that Khudainatov is not known to have the funds to purchase and support a luxury vessel of Amadea's size.

Even if Khudainatov were capable of supporting one yacht of the caliber of Amadea, he is also listed as the putative owner of a far larger ultraluxury vessel, the megayacht Scheherazade. Taken together these two vessels are worth more than $1 billion. 

Millemarin opposes the Amadea's seizure and sale, and has contested the process at each step, both in Fiji and in the United States. Litigation over the vessel's fate continues in the Southern District of New York.