A mysterious superyacht is docked in Marina di Carrara, a small Italian town on the Tuscan coast. Italian police have boarded the vessel, searching for clues and interviewing the ship’s captain to figure ownership, according to NYTimes.
Scheherazade, a 140-meter superyacht, is estimated to be worth around $700 million, has two helipads, a swimming pool, and gold-plated fixtures in the bathrooms.
Locals believe the yacht could be owned by a Russian oligarch or even Russian President Vladimir Putin. They’ve nicknamed it “Putin’s yacht.”
Luxury motor yacht SCHEHERAZADE – absolute beast 😍🔥
Built by @luerssenyachts in 2020.👌🏻
Her exterior design is the work of Espen Oeino!🙌🏻
She can accommodate up to 40 guests in 22 cabins.🎊
Guess her length in the comments down below👇🏻
🎥 @boatfromtheworld pic.twitter.com/GSyRIxofh1
— Boatsters Black (@Boatsters) November 12, 2021
“Everybody calls it Putin’s yacht, but nobody knows whose it is,” Ernesto Rossi, a local interviewed by NYT. “It’s a rumor that’s been going around for months.”
So @MarineTraffic was very helpful in helping us learn more about this superyacht. Here’s a track of the Scheherazade in 2021 – note the trip to Sochi (in the first week of July last year) pic.twitter.com/dgHA5Ft3Si
— Mike Forsythe 傅才德 (@PekingMike) March 8, 2022
The ship’s captain, Guy Bennett-Pearce, said Putin had ever been on the yacht.
“I have never seen him. I have never met him.” He noted the owner of the yacht is currently not under any sanction list though didn’t rule out that the person could be Russian, adding he couldn’t reveal the owner because of a “watertight nondisclosure agreement.”
Captain Bennett-Pearce said Italian investigators had recently come aboard to examine the vessel’s certification documents. “They are looking hard. They are looking at every aspect,” he said. “This isn’t the local coppers coming down, these are men in dark suits.”
On Monday, the captain was forced to hand over documents revealing the owner’s identity and was told by investigators it would be handled with “confidentiality.”
“I have no doubt in my mind whatsoever that this will clear the vessel of all negative rumors and speculations,” he said.
The investigation into the Scheherazade comes as the Biden administration made it very clear last week they will “seize the yachts, luxury apartments, and private jets” of Russian billionaires. Sanctions were announced by Western countries that have hit Russia’s economy hard and targeted Putin’s inner circle of oligarchs.
Even though some Russian superyachts and other assets of the oligarchs have been seized, there has been tremendous difficulty (see: here) of linking assets to oligarchs on the sanctions list (and even assets secretly controlled by Putin).