Authorities Have Seized Russian Mega-Collector and Former Tate Donor Viktor Vekselberg’s $90 Million Superyacht in Spain

The 255-foot ship, named the Tango, was commandeered by Spanish authorities at the request of the U.S. government.

Russian billionaire Viktor Vekselberg, second from left, with Vladimir Potanin, Roman Abramovich, and Gennady Timchenko in Sochi, Russia. (Photo by Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images)

Spanish authorities working in concert with American officials have seized a $90 million yacht belonging to sanctioned Russian oligarch and major art collector Viktor Vekselberg at the request of the U.S. Department of Justice.

On Monday, Spanish police, acting upon a court order, commandeered the Tango, as the 255-foot superyacht is called, after a U.S. District Court declared it eligible for “forfeiture based on violation of U.S. bank fraud, money laundering, and sanction statutes,” according to a Department of Justice statement.

Vekselberg, a former donor to Tate in the U.K. before the museum cut ties with him in March, was sanctioned by the U.S. Department of Treasury last month as part of ongoing actions against Vladimir Putin and his allies over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Documents filed in this case allege that Vekselberg, who acquired the superyacht in 2011, used shell companies to hide his property and “avoid bank oversight into U.S. dollar transactions related thereto.”

The yacht is now in the Spanish territory of Mallorca.

“Today’s seizure of Viktor Vekselberg’s yacht, the Tango, in Spain is the result of an unprecedented multinational effort to enforce U.S. sanctions targeting those elites who have enabled Russia’s unprovoked and illegal invasion of Ukraine,” Andrew Adams of Task Force KleptoCapture, a body set up under the Department of Justice to enforce sanctions on Russian oligarchs, said.

The confiscation of Tango is the latest in more than a dozen seizures of superyachts owned by Russian billionaires in Europe over the past five weeks, according to Bloomberg. These yachts together have an estimated total value of $2.25 billion.

In addition to the boat, U.S. authorities also obtained seizure warrants targeting $625,000 held at nine U.S. financial institutions by several other sanctioned Russians.

Since the onset of the war in Ukraine, many Russian billionaires and art collectors that have alleged ties to Putin have stepped down from their roles with top international museums.

Vladimir Potanin, one of Russia’s wealthiest oligarchs, left the board of the Guggenheim Museum last month.

Petr Aven, who has been sanctioned by the E.U., stepped down as trustee of the Royal Academy in London earlier last month, and the institution returned the donation he made to support the exhibition “Francis Bacon: Man and Beast” (until April 17).

The co-founder of the Garage Museum of Contemporary Art in Moscow, mega-collector Roman Abramovich, was hit with sanctions in the U.K. last month. He was reported to have been poisoned after attending negotiations between Kyiv and Moscow in Ukraine.

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