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How This Superyacht Became an Overnight Geopolitical Mystery

International governments have been going after the luxurious belongings of Russian oligarchs since Putin and his government started getting slapped with sanctions two weeks ago, so assuming the yacht hiding out in Italy is one of Putin’s friend’s, things aren’t looking so good. However, no one can confirm just yet. The ship’s British captain, Guy Bennett-Pearce, promised that Putin had never been on the boat and that it didn’t belong to him, but he didn’t confirm whether or not the yacht belonged to a Russian national.

Russian president Vladimir Putin.

Photo: VLADIMIR SMIRNOV/Getty Images

Considering all of the amenities on the boat, dubbed Scheherazade, it’s not exactly an unfair guess to assume the owner is a Russian oligarch. Scheherazade, which costs an estimated $700 million, boasts not one but two helicopter decks, an indoor swimming pool with a retractable cover that transforms the pool into a dance floor, a fully equipped gym, and bathrooms complete with gold-plated fixtures. That’s a lot of sparkle even for the level of wealth associated with a purchase this big. However, the glamour isn’t the unusual part; the degree of intentional secrecy is.

The superyacht community does entertain a level of confidentiality—mostly for security purposes—but the Scheherazade is kept under so many wraps that it makes people believe something dubious must be going on when it comes to the owner’s identity. For instance, all of the contractors and crew members signed nondisclosure agreements, there’s a custom cover to hide the boat’s nameplate, and when Scheherazade arrived at the port, workers built a metal structure on the pier to keep passersby from seeing the yacht.

The 459-foot superyacht is currently docked in a Tuscan port.

Photo: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

This yacht, however, isn’t the only one catching people’s attention as of late. The world’s second-biggest yacht, called Eclipse, is owned by Roman Abramovich, the Russian billionaire who bought (and has since sold his ownership stake) in the British soccer club, Chelsea. Interestingly, the UK government has yet to sanction any of Abramovich’s assets in the country.

As for Scheherazade, that mystery is still being investigated, and until the feds can figure out who the not-so-proud owner is, the behemoth on water will remain where it is, shrouded in a cloak of well-orchestrated secrecy.

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