Italian authorities are inspecting a mysterious superyacht docked in a northern port and considering seizing it as part of the sanctions against Russia. However, there is also speculation that the mystery superyacht could belong to Russian President Vladimir Putin himself.
Scheherazade, a $700 million superyacht, is one of the world's largest and most costly superyachts, but its exact ownership has been shrouded in mystery since its introduction in 2020. Many believe it to be the mysterious superyacht owned by Putin. However, the ship'scaptain, Guy Bennett-Pearce, a British national, denied that Putin owned or had ever been on the yacht.
Italian authorities believe that the superyacht may belong to Putin and is closely scrutinizing it. They are also contemplating seizing it under the sanctions imposed on Russia, just like it did with many of the superyachts owned by Russian oligarchs.
The Scheherazade is currently docked for maintenance at the Italian Sea Group shipyard in Marina di Carrara, Italy, and is safeguarded by precautions that are severe even by superyacht standards, including nameplate covers and a metal barrier erected to partially block the vessel from public view.
The boat includes two helicopter decks and satellite domes, according to the website SuperYachtFan, and is projected to cost around $700 million. A swimming pool with a retractable cover that turns to a dance floor is visible inside, according to images provided by a former crew member. Then there's the fully equipped gym and the bathrooms' gold-plated fittings.
The Scheherazade is unique among the world's largest superyachts (only 14 are longer than 140 meters), in that no potential owner has been publicly named. This has led to speculation that it may be a Middle Eastern millionaire or a well-connected Russian, possibly even Putin, who owns the superyacht.
Many, although, are quite sure that it is owned by Putin. Workers at the shipyard have speculated for more than a year that the ship belonged to Putin himself, according to a source at the yard who spoke to DailyMail.com this week. "All the whispers were it belonged to Putin," the person said.
Most evidences prove it belongs to Putin. The crew of the Scheherazade appears to be Russian, according to the source, and a team of Germans working on the vessel's repairs was recalled by their home office after the EU declared sanctions last week.
On the other hand, Guy Bennett-Pearce, the yacht's British captain, denied that Putin owned the yacht or had ever been aboard it. "I have never seen him. I have never met him," he told the New York Times.
In a phone interview from the yacht, the captain told the newspaper that the yacht's owner was not on any sanctions list. He did not rule out the possibility that the individual is Russian, but cited a "watertight nondisclosure agreement" as a reason for not saying more about the owner's identity.
The captain told the New York Times that Italian investigators had come aboard the ship on Friday and checked some of the ship's certification documents, and that he planned to hand up information revealing the genuine owner on Tuesday, saying he had "no choice."
Authorities across Europe have been racing to find and seize yachts linked to Russian oligarchs targeted in new sanctions for the invasion of Ukraine. The superyacht Amore Vero was seized by French officials last week in the Mediterranean tourist town of La Ciotat.
The 289-foot boat is thought to be owned by Igor Sechin, a Putin loyalist who is the CEO of Russian oil firm Rosneft, which has been sanctioned by the US since Russia took Crimea in 2014.