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Germany Seized $5 Million Worth of Art From a Russian Oligarch’s Superyacht

The collection included 30 paintings that were once on display on board one of the world's largest private yachts.

Dilbar superyacht Lürssen Yachts

Russian oligarchs cannot seem to catch a break these days. First, they can’t lounge on their megayacht—and now, other luxury goods are getting caught up in the sanctions.

German authorities have impounded 30 paintings—including works by French Surrealist Marc Chagall—from Russian oligarch Alisher Usmanov’s $600 million superyacht Dilbar, according to Radio Free Europe, as US-backed news agency. The gigayacht, measuring 511 feet, is considered the world’s largest by volume. The government seized the vessel in March because of ongoing sanctions over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The art collection is estimated to be worth around $5 million. 

The superyacht initially came to Germany’s port of Hamburg in the fall of 2021 for repairs, with the paintings stored in a separate depot. Once Russia’s invasion began, German officials sanctioned the ship, stating the billionaire allegedly did not declare all his belongings, including the paintings and property, upon entering the country.

Usmanov’s spokesperson told Robb Report that the paintings did not belong to him and are the property of discretionary trusts not under his control, therefore he did not need to declare them when entering the country.

In September, German authorities announced they would investigate allegations of tax evasion and money laundering against Usmanov. Officials raided the billionaire’s homes and discovered four Faberge eggs. While the true value of the eggs, which were confiscated, has been undisclosed, some have estimated the value at $33 million. 

According to officials, it’s believed that the billionaire has escaped paying over $550 million in taxes to Germany. Swiss bank USB has also confirmed that authorities searched its branches in Munich and Frankfurt as part of the investigation. Usmanov’s spokesperson also denied any allegations of tax evasion.

“The investigations are not directed against the banking institution concerned or its employees,” a USB spokesperson told Reuters about the investigation. “The search measures are taking place in the same preliminary proceedings in which searches have already been carried out at the defendant’s residence in the district of Miesbach and at his yacht.”

More countries across the EU are beginning to come down harder on Russian oligarchs fleeing Western sanctions in light of the ongoing war. Earlier this year, Finland seized 21 yachts belonging to Russian oligarchs. France and Italy have also worked to sanction vessels entering its shores. While the yachts are stuck in limbo, some countries are passing the bill on its owners for maintenance and upkeep, at least until the fighting in Ukraine ceases. 

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