As William “The Bard” Shakespeare would say, there’s something rotten in the State of Denmark. Only that, this time, there’s something rotten in Turkey, where some of Roman Abramovich’s record-breaking megayachts (in the plural) are in hiding to avoid seizure.
Roman Abramovich might not be the wealthiest Russian oligarch out there, but he is by far among the most famous. Before the invasion of Ukraine in February, he was a fixture over in his adoptive country UK and widely considered one of the savviest and most popular businessmen and investors. His personal collection of toys was of the stuff that dreams are made of, quite literally.
He still has that collection, but he’s no longer a beloved public figure. The Russian war in Ukraine landed him on sanctions lists in the UK, the U.S. and Europe, so he’s been spending his time in hiding in friendly countries like Turkey and the UAE. He also brought most of his luxury assets here – those that he could move, that is.
Abramovich’s fleet of watercraft alone is estimated at well over $1.3 billion, and that includes only the vessels we know about. Two of these, Eclipse and Solaris, are record breakers, being often listed among the world’s most expensive, the world’s most technologically advanced, and the world’s largest. And this brings us to the part about something fishy going on: Eclipse, delivered in 2010 by Blohm+Voss and valued at anything between $600 million and $1 billion, has changed hands.
Superyacht vlogger eSysman is the first to report the news, after looking at the data on Eclipse in the IMO database. In the video below, he describes the IMO database as “ground zero” regarding yacht registration, where certain data remains unchanged even in case the vessel changes registration flags or ownership.
Speaking of ownership, Eclipse’s has changed. There’s a note that says Eclipse, identified as IMO 1009613, is “reported sold undisclosed interest,” effective February 1, 2022. The previous owner was company Dohle Private Clients LTD, but the current owner remains unknown, with an unknown address. That last part alone is sketchy, eSysman points out: to enter a ship in the IMO database, you have to provide specifics, including the shell company listed as owner and the address.
Moreover, the change was operated in the database at a more recent moment than February, eSysman believes. Abramovich was connected to Eclipse long after the February status change, with reports saying that the crew sailing it into Turkey had to be paid in crypto because he couldn’t secure liquidities.
Given all of the above and the fact that no one but a fellow Russian oligarch would buy a gigantic vessel like Eclipse from a sanctioned individual, it seems that ownership of Eclipse has changed on paper only. In the short term, this means very little because the vessel remains in Turkey, where it can’t be seized. But the change in status, which virtually adds another layer of bureaucracy to hide the identity of the real beneficiary, could indicate that Abramovich is taking the extra steps to ensure no one but himself can touch it, in the eventuality he will want to sail it outside of friendly waters.
Then again, this should probably not come as a surprise, considering we’re talking about the same Russian oligarchs who turned their superyachts “invisible” by turning off AIS (automatic identification system tracking) and fleeing, the second sanctions went into effect.