Why sanctioned Russian oligarchs go for superyachts

The Axioma superyacht belonging to Russian oligarch Dmitrievich Pumpyansky, who is on the EU's list of sanctioned Russians, is seen docked in Gibraltar on March 21, 2022. PHOTO: REUTERS
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It's still yacht season in the Mediterranean, a favourite time of year for paparazzi. On any given sun-and-Champagne-drenched day, one might see tycoon Elon Musk frolicking shirtless on Endeavor CEO Ari Emanuel's yacht, or rapper Drake spotted aboard a US$660,000 (S$925,000) per-week superyacht in Saint-Tropez. But this year, things are a little different.

Fewer eye-popping vessels are departing from the ports of Monaco and Portofino, Italy, and recent world events have led to a reckoning with just how many of those boats are linked to unsavoury money. After the invasion of Ukraine, more than a dozen yachts owned by people with ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin were seized by European and the United States authorities. Other such boats have landed in countries such as Turkey and the United Arab Emirates, which have a relatively cozy relationship with Russia.

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