CORRECTION: According to the Ministry for Economy and Innovation in the German state of Hamburg, the country’s authorities have not seized the Dilbar, a 512-foot yacht owned by sanctioned Russian billionaire Alisher Usmanov. As Forbes reported on Wednesday, work on the ship has been halted at the Hamburg shipyard where it has been stationed for refitting work since October.
Three sources had told Forbes it had been seized, but a representative for Usmanov cited the statement from the ministry in Hamburg to confirm that it had not. In its statement, the ministry elaborated that the German federal customs agency is the “responsible enforcement authority” and would have to issue an export waiver for the yacht to leave, and that “no yacht leaves port that is not allowed to do so.”
The yacht is registered in the Cayman Islands and owned through a holding company, making it difficult to tie directly to Usmanov for the purpose of sanctions. In its statement, the ministry in Hamburg added that restrictions can be imposed on a yacht owned by a sanctioned Russian individual only “if the ownership situation is clearly clarified and all these possessions are also sanctioned.” The ministry confirmed to Forbes that the yacht is still in the dock at the Hamburg shipyards of Blohm+Voss.
Forbes contacted the German Ministry of Economic Affairs and the Federal Customs Service but has not received an immediate response.
Russian billionaire Alisher Usmanov was sanctioned by the European Union on Monday. Two days later, Forbes has learned from three sources in the yacht industry that work has been halted on one of his prized possessions—the 512-foot yacht Dilbar, valued at nearly $600 million—in the northern city of Hamburg, where it had been stationed for refitting at the shipyards of Blohm+Voss since October.
The ship has been in the Hamburg shipyards of German shipbuilding firm Blohm+Voss since late October for a refitting job. Sources who spoke to Forbes said that the German government froze the asset and that, likely as a result, Blohm+Voss employees who had been working on the yacht didn’t show up to work on Wednesday. A spokesperson for Lürssen, the German shipbuilder which owns Blohm+Voss, declined to comment on Thursday. “All orders and projects of the Lürssen Group and its subsidiaries are treated in accordance with the applicable laws and regulations,” the spokesperson said. Representatives for Usmanov didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
Usmanov purchased Dilbar in 2016 for a reported $600 million from Lürssen, which custom-built it for him over 52 months. The firm calls it “one of the most complex and challenging yachts ever built, in terms of both dimensions and technology.” At 15,917 tons, it’s the world’s largest motor yacht by gross tonnage, and is typically manned by a crew of 96 people. Dilbar boasts the largest swimming pool ever installed on a yacht as well as two helicopter pads, a sauna, a beauty salon, and a gym. Its plush interiors have more than 1,000 sofa cushions and it can host up to 24 people in 12 suites.
The yacht is part of Usmanov’s estimated multibillion dollar fortune, which spans stakes in iron ore and steel giant Metalloinvest and consumer electronics firm Xiaomi, as well as smaller holdings in telecom, mining and media. One of the earliest investors in Facebook along with fellow billionaire Yuri Milner, Usmanov also owns extensive real estate assets in the West, ranging from two estates in the UK—Beechwood House in London and Sutton Place in Surrey, valued at a combined $280 million—to luxury homes in Munich, Germany; Lausanne, Switzerland; Monaco; and Sardinia.
Usmanov sold his 30% stake in English soccer team Arsenal F.C. in 2018 for nearly $700 million in cash, but until this week had ties to soccer through his USM Holdings and MegaFon sponsorships of Everton F.C. The Premier League team said on Wednesday that it was suspending the arrangements in light of Russia’s attack on Ukraine. Usmanov isn’t the only Russian billionaire with a mega-yacht: Forbes and yacht valuation experts VesselsValue tracked down 32 of them.
On Tuesday, Usmanov commented on the EU sanctions imposed on him in a statement to the International Fencing Federation where he also announced he was stepping down as the organization’s president. “I believe that such decision is unfair, and the reasons employed to justify the sanctions are a set of false and defamatory allegations damaging my honor, dignity, and business reputation,” he wrote. “I will use all legal means to protect my honor and reputation.”
Updated on March 3.
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