Petition Asks for $120 Million Amore Vero Superyacht to Be Turned Into Refugee Hotel

Can you still speak of sanctions against Russian oligarchs being efficient if the assets seized under the same sanctions sit in docks, incurring huge annual costs for taxpayers? Common sense would say that you can’t, and a very popular petition is arguing the same.
Amore Vero was delivered in 2013, was frozen in France in March 2022 and has been sitting unused ever since 6 photos
Photo: Oceanco
Amore Vero SuperyachtAmore Vero SuperyachtAmore Vero SuperyachtAmore Vero SuperyachtMinister Bruno Le Maire Tweet
Since the start of the war in Ukraine at the end of February 2022, several countries have formed a common front against Russia, opting for sanctions against Russian oligarchs in the hope that financial losses would deter them from further sponsoring President Putin’s war. The efficacy of sanctions remains a debatable and very hot topic, especially since all the mega- and superyachts seized since March have been sitting in docks, incurring massive costs for the local taxpayer.

In addition to the extra financial burden on the taxpayer, there’s also the question of how sanctions benefit the people of Ukraine at a time when they need help the most. One popular petition on is using these two arguments to ask for Amore Vero, one of the first yachts seized under current sanctions, to be repurposed as a refugee hotel.

Amore Vero was frozen and then formally seized by the French in La Ciotat in southern France, where it had sailed at the begging of the year to undergo repairs. It was supposed to sail out in early April, but obviously never did, because supposed owner Igor Sechin was sanctioned by the EU. Sechin has denied being the direct beneficiary of the superyacht, but was discredited by the fact that he was a major stakeholder in the management company that owned the vessel on paper.

Amore Vero Superyacht
Photo: Superyacht Times
Since March, Amore Vero has been sitting in the marina. It’s not being put to any actual use, but it is incurring extra costs, which has prompted retired engineer Phillipe Bonneau to start the petition asking “competent institutions (Aix-Marseille-Provence metropolis, Departmental Council 13, La Ciotat Town Hall, La Ciotat Shipyard, port manager) to take all measures to ensure the requisition of the boat and the reception of refugees.”

“I'm angry,” Bonneau tells Bloomberg over phone, in an interview as part of a larger discussion on how repurposing seized assets to benefit Ukraine would make the most sense right now. “It has no sense to be there without being used.”

He’s clearly not the only one to think so: his petition is nearing 30,000 signatures and is short of becoming one of the most signed petitions on the platform right now. That means nothing in terms of actually changing anything, since petitions have no legal weight, but it could put pressure on authorities to do something about the situation – or even point them in the right direction in which they should go to solve it.

Previously called St. Princess Olga, Amore Vero is neither the largest nor the most expensive vessel owned by a Russian oligarch, but it is an impressive build. Delivered by Oceanco in 2013 to the oil baron slash billionaire Sechin, it has a total length of 280 feet (85.5 meters), four decks, and a very “airy and elegant” silhouette that aimed to show that naval design can be graceful and elegant. This kind of elegance comes with a reported price tag of $120 million.

Amore Vero Superyacht
Photo: Superyacht Times
Amore Vero, which means “real love” in Italian, offers accommodation for 14 guests in total and features a two-story space dedicated solely to the owner’s suite, including a private deck with fold-down terraces that expand outdoor space onto the water. Amenities include a pool that converts into a helipad, a jacuzzi on the sundeck, and a stylish interior by Alberto Pinto – it is actually one of the last interiors he ever designed.

Naturally, all these would mean very little to Ukrainian refugees, because the fact that they would have free lodging while waiting for permanent rehousing in France would be of higher importance.

Bonneau’s petition doesn’t mention how authorities should go about the conversion from a legal standpoint, which brings the problem back to square one: the reason why Amore Vero and all other seized superyachts have been sitting unused is that there is no legal precedent for the situation.
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About the author: Elena Gorgan
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Elena has been writing for a living since 2006 and, as a journalist, she has put her double major in English and Spanish to good use. She covers automotive and mobility topics like cars and bicycles, and she always knows the shows worth watching on Netflix and friends.
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