The opulent $200 million sailing vessel of a deceased billionaire oligarch, which served as the muse for Jeff Bezos’ Koru yacht, finds itself entangled in a contentious dispute within the family. This majestic 350-foot-long yacht, known as the ‘Black Pearl,’ yacht a wine cellar housing 4,000 bottles, a piano once owned by Napoleon Bonaparte, and an elevated cinema lounge with panoramic views.
The Ongoing Court Battle for Black Pearl Yacht
The world’s second-largest sailing superyacht, known as the Black Pearl Yacht and valued at around $200 million, has become a focal point in a bitter legal dispute within the family of the late Russian oligarch Oleg Bourlakov. This ongoing feud involves Oleg’s widow, Loudmila Bourlakova, and their daughter, who are engaged in a contentious family struggle in the UK against Oleg’s sister and brother-in-law, seeking approximately $1.2 billion. Loudmila alleges that she has fallen victim to a significant fraud scheme aimed at denying her a fair portion of her husband’s $3.7 billion fortune, utilizing fabricated documents and fictitious loans, as reported by Bloomberg, citing court documents from London.
Oleg Bourlakov’s death in 2021 from COVID-19 raised suspicions surrounding the circumstances of his passing, triggering a web of disputes over his substantial wealth across multiple countries, including the UK, Monaco, Panama, Montenegro, Switzerland, Ukraine, the USA, Cyprus, Latvia, Russia, and others. These disputes encompass various legal matters, such as a divorce case in Monaco and a Russian paternity suit, adding complexity to the already convoluted situation. Notably, the UK court proceedings have shed light on the tactics employed by the super-rich to conceal their immense wealth from authorities and evade tax obligations. Furthermore, they reveal the intricacies of wealth structuring and agreements made with family members.
At the heart of the ongoing legal battle are two contested wills attributed to Bourlakov—one from 2004, which bequeaths all of his assets to his wife Loudmila, and another “informal” will in the Russian language, which designates all assets to the Kazakov Foundation, according to court filings. Much of Bourlakov’s $3.7 billion wealth was held through a network of companies and trusts, predominantly registered in well-known tax havens. This wealth includes valuable artworks, antiques worth over $100 million, and the $200 million ultra-luxurious sailing superyacht Black Pearl Yacht, all of which are central to the ongoing legal battle in the UK.
Black Pearl: Oleg Bourlakov’s Extraordinary Sailing Superyacht
Delivered in 2018 by the Dutch shipyard Oceanco, Black Pearl Yacht stands as the third-largest sailing yacht globally, boasting a total length of 109.5 metres. Outdone in size only by Jeff Bezos’ Koru, measuring 127 metres, Black Pearl has left a mark on the yachting industry with its revolutionary design, eco-friendly features, and technological innovations. Bourlakov’s vision for this luxury superyacht prioritized energy efficiency, leading to the inclusion of a hybrid propulsion system supported by a substantial battery pack developed by BMT Nigel Gee of Southampton. Remarkably, Oceanco claims that the sailing superyacht can cross the Atlantic without the need for fuel.
Through the largest DynaRig system in the world that Dykstra Naval Architects created, Black Pearl’s three enormous 70-meter carbon masts enable the deployment of 2,900 square meters of sail. Under sail, the yacht can achieve an impressive speed of 30 knots and generate sufficient energy to power the entire vessel without relying on generators. The yacht’s striking exterior resulted from a collaboration between the UK-based Ken Freivokh Design and the Italian studio Nuvolari Lenard.
While the interior is still under wraps, Nuvolari Lenard collaborated with French architect Gerard Villate to create it. It is believed that Black Pearl boasts six cabins, including a master suite and two VIP cabins, accommodating up to 12 guests. Some of the yacht’s standout features include a glass elevator, a spa pool, a hot tub, and an onboard cinema.
The Legacy of Oleg Bourlakov
Oleg Leonidovich Bourlakov, born on August 24, 1949, in Leningrad, was a Russian entrepreneur and billionaire who passed away on June 21, 2021, in Moscow after battling COVID-19. Before establishing himself as a successful businessman, Oleg served in the USSR Air Force and took pride in his military service. In the 1980s and 1990s, he made a series of highly profitable investments in Russia, spanning the aerospace, chemicals, and energy industries. Beyond his business pursuits, Oleg held a deep passion for sailing and played a pivotal role in the creation of the Black Pearl.
Oleg and Lyudmila, his wife, met as students, and their shared ambition and business acumen enabled them to build a vast business empire. At the time of his death in 2021, Bourlakov was ranked 177th on the Russian Forbes list, with a fortune estimated at $3.7 billion.