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Seized $325 Million Superyacht Amadea Arrives in Hawaii, Is U.S. Taxpayers’ Problem Now
The lengthy and highly-mediated drama around Amadea, one of the world’s largest and fanciest superyachts, seems to have reached the final chapter. The vessel, believed to be owned by Russian billionaire Suleiman Kerimov, is now fully under U.S. control – and in U.S. waters.

Seized $325 Million Superyacht Amadea Arrives in Hawaii, Is U.S. Taxpayers’ Problem Now

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Amadea is a 2017 build by shipyard Lurssen, estimated at $325 million – $400 million. At 348 feet (106 meters), it ranks as one of the world’s largest superyachts, and it has the amenities to match, including a sizable helipad, an in-deck pool, eight lavish cabins the general public has never seen because it was never offered for charter, and gold detailing throughout.

Amadea was arrested in Fiji in April this year, when it stopped mid-way on its journey to friendly waters and asked to dock in Fiji, after a surprising and very costly crossing of the Pacific. Authorities here seized it on behalf of the U.S., as Kerimov was on sanctions lists since 2018 and was wanted for fraud. It would take several courtroom showdowns and two appeals for the U.S. to finally declare it state property.

Earlier this week, Amadea sailed out of Fiji, with U.S. Marshalls onboard and all-new U.S. hired crew, apparently heading towards Hawaii. Ever since the initial arrest, the Justice Department, which conducted the sting via its KeptoCapture Group, said that the goal was to get it to U.S. waters. The Insider reports that the goal has been achieved: Amadea has sailed into Hawaii, entering and mooring at Honolulu harbor.

In short, Amadea is now U.S. property, sitting on U.S. territory. The direct implication of this apparent victory is that Amadea is also U.S.’ problem now, specifically the taxpayers’. Annual costs for a superyacht are usually 10% of its value, so the U.S. is looking at at least $30 million a year, even if it never leaves dock.

Even assuming the state will auction it off, which is not likely as of this moment because of the legal ramifications of the case and the lack of precedent, it will still have to pay for it until it changes hands. If it changes hands is a better way to put it, because no billionaire on the market for a new boat will want another man’s custom vessel, let alone a Russian’s, with the oligarch-typical styling.

As a reminder, Amadea was seized as part of ongoing sanctions against Russian oligarchs who are funding President Putin’s war against the Ukraine. In the end, though, it’s the average Joe and Jane back home who will end up paying for it, in what could only be called the saddest irony of it all.

The irony is not lost on authorities either, even if they’ll never own up to it. Joe Biden’s national security advisor Jake Sullivan let it slip on a hot mic during a recent Center for a New American Security (CNAS) conference: the “craziest thing” about seizing Russian oligarchs’ superyachts is that American citizens will be paying for them.

“When we seize one, we have to pay for upkeep,” Sullivan said, unaware his microphone was still live. “The federal government pays for upkeep... so, like, some people are basically being paid to maintain Russian superyachts on behalf of the United States government.”

For the time being, the fate of Amadea is yet undecided, even if the controversial chapter of its ownership seems to have come to a close. Whatever that fate might be, it will be expensive. And Kerimov and Putin won’t be the only ones paying for it.


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