A $200 Million Superyacht Belonging to a Sanctioned Oligarch and Art Collector Will Be Auctioned Off to Benefit Ukraine

The 300-foot-long vessel is owned by the pro-Kremlin politician Viktor Medvedchuk.

Viktor Medvedchuk's Royal Romance yacht. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

A $200 million superyacht belonging to a sanctioned oligarch will be sold at auction to benefit Ukraine.

The 300-foot-long vessel is owned by the 68-year-old pro-Kremlin Ukrainian politician Viktor Medvedchuk, who has close ties to Vladimir Putin. It was seized by authorities in Croatia in March.

Last month, the Croatian government approved a search warrant request from the U.S. justice department. Local police then raided the ship on behalf of the FBI, according to the Croatian newspaper Jutarnji list.

A Croatian court ruled that ownership of Medvedchuk’s yacht, named Royal Romance, should be transferred to Ukraine’s Asset Recovery and Management Agency (ARMA), the paper reported. 

ARMA confirmed the ruling in a recent statement, announcing plans to “preserve the economic value [of the yacht] by selling it at auction.” Should that plan go ahead, it would mark the first time a ship owned by a sanctioned individual would be sold to benefit Ukraine, according to the Guardian

The wife of arrested pro-Russian Ukrainian politician Viktor Medvedchuk, Oxana Marchenko, talks during her press conference at the Public Chamber of Russia on April 15, 2022 in Moscow, Russia. Via Getty Images.

Medvedchuk, who has been dubbed the “dark prince” of Ukrainian politics, reportedly escaped house arrest when Russia invaded Ukraine in February. He was arrested in his home country in April.

This spring, Ukraine’s State Bureau of Investigation conducted raids of properties owned by Medvedchuk. “Valuable paintings, antiques, and [pieces of] jewelry were seized” in the process, according to the agency.

Medvedchuk was extradited to Russia as part of a major exchange of prisoners this past fall.

The politician was once widely thought to be Putin’s choice to replace Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy, should the war-torn country’s government be overtaken by Russia. Putin is the godfather of Medvedchuk’s youngest daughter.

Designed by the Dutch superyacht contractor Feadship in 2005, Royal Romance boasts 50 rooms spread across six floors, as well as four decks, two elevators, a gym, a pool, a spa, and a theater. It spans the length of a football field and is as tall as a 10-story building, with room for 14 guests and 21 crewmembers.

Details about how and when the yacht will be auctioned off were not provided by ARMA. The agency explained that the government’s managing of a seized property within a foreign jurisdiction is a “unique situation and has no analogs…in international practice.”

Medvedchuk’s is far from the only oligarch-owned yacht to be seized this year. In March, German authorities impounded Russian oligarch Alisher Usmanov’s ship, and Fiji seized a $300 million yacht this spring that had a rare Fabergé egg on board.

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