Superyachts earned their name for a good reason: they are opulent vessels exclusively owned by ultra-wealthy billionaires. Although Italian governments initially confiscated these extravagant watercraft, it didn’t take long for them to realize that the upkeep of these ships was more fitting for individuals with substantial wealth. Multiple European countries confiscated the multimillion-dollar floating mansions of sanctioned oligarchs. The Italian government, in particular, has taken possession of no less than four yachts and 20 luxury residences, in addition to cars, fine art, and other valuable assets, since the spring of 2022.
The Italian government provided almost $15 million in funding for immediate upkeep expenses for yachts and mansions in the previous year. An Italian official expressed concerns, stating, “Our primary issues are with the yachts, and if the conflict persists, the operational expenses might surpass their intrinsic worth.” Specifically regarding megayachts, larger vessels come with a greater number of amenities and associated maintenance expenses.
Consistently removing debris from their hulls and spending significant amounts of money on fuel for daily air-conditioning, crew salaries, insurance, and docking fees are the fundamental costs. To give a rough estimate for an average person, maintaining a large megayacht can amount to nearly 10% of its value per year. In September 2023, a Reuters article reported that Italy experienced a 0.4% decline in GDP during the second quarter compared to the first.
The Italian brain trust Prometeia has stated that the Italian economy is currently experiencing a stagnation phase, although it does not foresee a “full-blown recession.” Despite this economic situation, the Italian government is paying $275,000 weekly for the upkeep of Russia’s richest man, Andrey Melnichenko’s seized $580 million vessel, Sailing Yacht A.
The infamous Sailing Yacht A created by Philippe Starck is not, however, the largest yacht seized in Italy. The superyacht Scheherazade, which was taken last year and had $700 million worth, holds the distinction of the greatest seized vessel. During its time berthed at the Tuscan port of Marina di Carrara, there are rumors that an unnamed owner paid for the yacht’s upkeep, staff, and renovations.
Additionally, Italian authorities seized the magnificent Lady M superyacht, worth $71 million and owned by Alexei Mordashov, as well as the Lady Lena, a stunning Sanlorenzo boat measuring 171 feet and costing $55 million. These four vessels have a combined worth that exceeds $1.4 billion. Furthermore, the country would need to set aside $140 million for just these four ships when annual maintenance costs of 10% are taken into account.
According to the legislation, the countries in charge of the seized ships must make sure they are returned in top shape rather than considerably damaged. Complications also abound in the alternate solution, which includes the owners paying for maintenance. Authorized owners cannot transfer money through the financial system without first receiving specific government approval, which can take two years or more. The government is still obligated to pay for these significant costs during this period.
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