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Germany seizes the world's largest yacht (at least according to volume)

The luxury superyacht Dilbar sails off the coast of Monaco in 2017.
Valery Hache
/
AFP via Getty Images
The luxury superyacht Dilbar sails off the coast of Monaco in 2017.

German authorities have seized the world's largest yacht by volume after determining that a Russian oligarch had transferred its ownership to his sister — who is also facing Western sanctions.

Dilbar, the yacht in question, measures some 511 feet and 15,917 tons, which shipbuilder Lurssen says makes it the largest motor yacht in the world by gross tonnage. It has two helipads and one of the biggest indoor pools ever installed on a yacht, according to the U.S. Treasury Department, which puts its estimated worth between $600 and $735 million.

The superyacht is named after the mother of its original owner: Alisher Usmanov, one of Russia's wealthiest billionaires and a known close associate of the Russian president. Usmanov was sanctioned by the U.S., United Kingdom., European Union and Switzerland in March, following Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Germany's federal police tweeted Wednesday that it found, "through extensive investigations despite offshore concealment," that the yacht currently belongs to Usmanov's sister, Gulbakhor Ismailova. Authorities impounded the yacht, which remains at the port of Hamburg, after confirming with Brussels that its owner is under sanctions.

Ismailova was sanctioned by the U.K. on Wednesday and the EU last week. Both entities said Usmanov had indirectly transferred assets to his sister, including leaving her as Dilbar's only beneficial owner.

"The owner of the yacht 'Dilbar' is Navis Marine Ltd. (Cayman Islands), whose shareholder is Almenor Holdings Ltd. (Cyprus). All shares in that holding company are held by PomerolCapital SA (Switzerland) in trust for the benefit of 'The Sisters Trust,' " EU officials explained, adding that Usmanov has not been a shareholder of that trust company since 2017.

Ismailova has also been linked to luxury real estate in Italy and Latvia associated with Usmanov, the EU said, and therefore has "actively supported materially or financially Russian decision-makers responsible for the annexation of Crimea and the destabilisation of Ukraine."

Dilbar made headlines in early March, when Hamburg officials denied conflicting reports that they had seized the superyacht and said any such move would have to come from higher federal customs authorities.

According to Boat International, Dilbar is also the fourth-longest yacht in the world. It can accommodate up to 96 crew members as well as 24 guests in a large living space, which includes fold-out balconies, an onboard garden (with "a specifically developed variety of grass that tolerates salt air") and more than 1,000 custom-made sofa cushions.


This story originally appeared in the Morning Edition live blog.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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