Italian authorities are currently probing whether a mysterious superyacht docked in a northern port should be seized under sanctions against Russia, following speculation that it could belong to Vladimir Putin himself.
The $700 million yacht, Scheherazade, is one of the largest and most expensive superyachts in the world, and since its launch in 2020, its true ownership has been cloaked in absolute secrecy.
Currently docked for repairs at the Italian Sea Group shipyard in Marina di Carrara, Italy, the Scheherazade is protected by measures that are extreme even by the ultra-private standards of the superyacht world, with covers hiding its nameplate and a metal barrier erected to partially block the vessel from public view.
For more than a year, workers at the shipyard have speculated that the ship belongs to Putin himself, a source there told DailyMail.com this week. ‘All the whispers were it belonged to Putin,’ the person said.
The source said that the Scheherazade’s crew appear to be Russian, and that a team of Germans working on repairs to the vessel were recalled by their home office after the EU announced its sanctions last week.
However, the ship’s British captain, Guy Bennett-Pearce, denied that Putin owns the Scheherazade or has ever been on board, telling the New York Times: ‘I have never seen him. I have never met him.’
Bennett-Pearce declined to identify the Scheherazade’s owner, citing a strict non-disclosure agreement, and would not rule out that the owner is Russian. He did however insist that the owner is not on any sanctions list.
The captain said that Italian investigators had come aboard on Friday and examined some of the ship’s certification documents, and that he planned to hand over documents identifying the true owner on Tuesday, telling the Times that he had ‘no choice.’
‘I have no doubt in my mind whatsoever that this will clear the vessel of all negative rumors and speculations,’ Bennett-Pearce told the outlet.