Dozens of superyachts that have been seized from Russian oligarchs are at risk of falling into disrepair as they go unmanned and unmaintained as the governments who seized them decide what to do with them.

The yachts and their billionaire owners, many of which are among Russian President Vladimir Putin’s closest allies, were included in a series of sweeping global sanctions recently imposed against Russia for its invasion of Ukraine. Earlier this month, Italy seized a $578 million megayacht belonging to Andrey Melnichenko, France seized a $120 million vessel owned by Igor Sechin, and Spain seized a $153 million superyacht linked to Sergei Chemezov.

Business Insider spoke with four experts who described how the sanctions against Russia — which they say are more extensive than any other coordinated global round of sanctions in history — could lead to lengthy court battles and the deterioration of the world’s most expensive superyachts.

“Yachts will start to deteriorate as soon as the maintenance program is relaxed,” Benjamin Maltby, partner at Keystone Law in the UK and an expert in yacht and luxury asset law, told Insider. “Cleaning surfaces and checking equipment operation is continual.”

Todd Roberts, president of Marine Boat Works in California, told Insider that yachts are typically seized for sales purposes, meaning the impounder has a vested interest in maintaining the yacht and its value. However, the sanctions have made the process more murky.

The sanctions do not allow countries to take ownership of the yachts and the Russian billionaires remain the beneficiaries, though the assets are effectively frozen and blocked from use.

And while the Russian oligarchs are still technically responsible for paying for yacht maintenance, it is likely they will either refuse to pay, or European authorities will encounter difficulty collecting the funds due to sanctions on financial transactions with the billionaires.

In the meantime, it remains unclear who will foot the multimillion-dollar bill to maintain upkeep on the mega-vessels. According to Maltby, the maintenance cost of a yacht usually totals about 15% to 20% of its overall value. For Melnichenko’s yacht, for example, that would translate to up to $115.6 million in annual expenses.

Even foregoing the costs to staff, repair, fuel, and insure the ship, the costs to dock the yacht can quickly add up. Roberts said docking fees alone typically cost tens of thousands of dollars per month.

Without proper care, vessels can lose about 30% of their value, according to Roberts. What’s more, if a superyacht were to go without its crew — which typically includes a staff of 25 or more — the vessel could quickly fail official inspections and ultimately lose its insurance due to concerns related to functionality and environmental risk.

Maltby told Insider he expects most crews to walk away from the seized vessels because their pay will likely be comprised, leaving European authorities in the lurch when it comes to deciding what to do with the assets.

“This is almost completely uncharted territory,” Roberts said. “I don’t think any of us fully understand what it will mean for the industry.”

4 thoughts on “Hey, Who Said Superyachts Were A War Weapon?”
  1. 🔴 RUSSA’s Invasion of CRIMEA & NOW, ..UKRAINE:
    🔴 IN THE END WE WILL ALL SEE THE UNDERLYING REASON FOR RUSSIA/PUTIN INVADED
    CRIMEA & UKRAINE.
    Ⓜ️ NEITHER COUNTRY HAS LARGE DEPOSITS OF NATURAL RESOURES,.. MAYBE OIL.
    I’VE NOT HEARD OR SEEN ANYONE MENTION NATURAL RESOURCES,.. WHY❓❓❓
    🔴 TAKE A HARD LOOK AT THEIR SOUTHERN BORDERs?
    Ⓜ️ MOSTLY SHORELINES & BEACHFRONT LAND that is being Taken by RUSSIA.
    🔴 SUPERYACHTS;…
    OLAGARDS, PUTIN, RICH RUSSIANS HAVE THEM BUT,…. WHERE IN OR ON RUSSIAN LAND ARE THERE SHORELINES & BEACHFRONT LAND THAT WOULD ACCOMODATE LARGE..HUGE BOATS & YACHTS?
    BOTTOMLINE,… THEY,… RUSSIA’S RICH & ELETE NEED A PLACE FOR THEIR YACHTS & AS THEIR PLAYGROUND,… ENTER WARs, …CRIMEA & NOW,… UKRAINE & THEIR SOUTHERN COASTLINES,…
    A THOUGHT,.. SURE… BUT TIME WILL COMPLETE THIS STORY & HISTORY AS TRUE.

  2. Drew Winzer, your comments about the lack of natural resources in both Russia and Ukraine are one hundred percent wrong. Do your research. Both Russia and Ukraine have multiple resources and represent major export revenue.
    As for the rest of your comments, well, the words “meaningless” and “”childish” come to mind,

  3. The main question in these seizures is still their LEGALITY or ILLEGALITY:
    If a country is at war with another country, properties and goods belonging to the warring country on the other side can be seized and, at the end of the war, be used as part of the final agreement on ‘reparations’ and such. This was the reason for many far away countries like Brazil etc. to declare themselves at war with Germany towards 1944 or so: It enabled politicians to a quick grab of valuables.
    What makes these recent “seizures” less legal is the fact tat none of the seizing countries in ‘AT WAR’ with Russia, under which circumstances only a common commercial At of Law could be exercized – and it would need to have a common COMMERCIAL LEGAL CAUSE.
    As for “Sanctions”, their LEGALITY is still VERY QUESTIONABLE, unless we rated them as DECLARATIONS OF WAR, as they are inflicting war-like damage on a a victim-country and are, usually, not based on proof and law but on POLITICAL INTEREST.
    So, basically, “Sanctions” are the ‘TOOL OF BULLIES, OUTSIDE OF LAW’ to enforce their will on other countries, simply furthering on their own interests. They have been used in many cases of countries freeing themselves from colonial masters – see Cuba, Iran, Vietnam, and many others -or to spread the own SPHERE OF MIGHT, as in the spreading of NATO – see Yugoslavia, and now, Ukraine. In these, they are the COMMON TOOL OF ILLEGAL POWER AND EXPANSION.

  4. The main question in these seizures is still their LEGALITY or ILLEGALITY:
    If a country is at war with another country, properties and goods belonging to the warring country on the other side can be seized and, at the end of the war, be used as part of the final agreement on ‘reparations’ and such. This was the reason for many far away countries like Brazil etc. to declare themselves at war with Germany towards 1944 or so: It enabled politicians to a quick grab of valuables.
    What makes these recent “seizures” less legal is the fact tat none of the seizing countries in ‘AT WAR’ with Russia, under which circumstances only a common commercial At of Law could be exercized – and it would need to have a common COMMERCIAL LEGAL CAUSE.
    As for “Sanctions”, their LEGALITY is still VERY QUESTIONABLE, unless we rated them as DECLARATIONS OF WAR, as they are inflicting war-like damage on a a victim-country and are, usually, not based on proof and law but on POLITICAL INTEREST.
    So, basically, “Sanctions” are the ‘TOOL OF BULLIES, OUTSIDE OF LAW’ to enforce their will on other countries, simply furthering on their own interests. They have been used in many cases of countries freeing themselves from colonial masters – see Cuba, Iran, Vietnam, and many others -or to spread the own SPHERE OF MIGHT, as in the spreading of NATO – see Yugoslavia, and now, Ukraine. In these, they are the COMMON TOOL OF ILLEGAL POWER AND EXPANSION.

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