The 50-metre motor vessel, modest by oligarch standards, is covered in scaffolding and sitting under a hangar in dry dock, one of many such boats being refitted in the Dutch port of Vlissingen.
What sets the Aquamarine apart is that, until the day of the invasion of Ukraine, it belonged to Russia’s best-known businessman, Roman Abramovich, a Guardian investigation has revealed. On 24 February, ownership of the yacht passed from a company previously controlled by Abramovich to a close associate of his, the Russian businessman David Davidovich.
The Aquamarine is the fifth yacht to have been recently linked to Abramovich, who was placed under sanctions by the UK and EU for his reported links to the Russian president, Vladimir Putin. His fleet includes two megayachts worth more than $1bn, which were scrambled to Turkey after Abramovich was blacklisted, and two smaller boats currently moored in the Caribbean.
Davidovich told the Guardian that he was the owner of Aquamarine as well as the Jersey-domiciled company MHC Jersey Ltd, which is registered as the owner of the yacht on the maritime database MarineTraffic.
“I can confirm that I am the owner of MHC Jersey Ltd and the Aquamarine yacht,” Davidovich said in a written statement.
Davidovich also said that he was the majority owner of the British Virgin Islands-listed Norma Investments, an investment vehicle that is listed as the only shareholder of Aquamarine’s owner MHC Jersey Ltd, according to Jersey public record.
The Wall Street Journal earlier reported, based on securities filings, that ownership of the Norma Investments, previously believed to be controlled by Abramovich, shifted to Davidovich the day Russia invaded Ukraine on 24 February. The restructuring was seen by experts as a way to avert the possible freezing of some of Abramovich’s assets.
Norma Investments, which had been named as a company belonging to Abramovich in several public filings in the past, had served as a vehicle for venture capital investments.
A separate entity called MHC (Services) Ltd also disclosed that Davidovich had taken control of the company on 24 February. MHC (Services) is registered at Chelsea Football Club’s Stamford Bridge stadium, although it is not connected with the club and provides consultancy services.
Both Davidovich and representatives of Roman Abramovich did not reply to requests for comment on Abramovich’s links to Aquamarine. Representatives of Abramovich said the oligarch was not the ultimate beneficiary of MHC Jersey Ltd.
Aquamarine is undergoing repairs at Damen Shiprepair, a Dutch firm that specialises in the construction and repair of luxury yachts. A source at the shipyard who asked for anonymity said that it was generally understood that it had been Abramovich’s yacht.
Aquamarine was built by the Dutch firm Heesen, who delivered it in 2021. At the time of construction, the luxury-lifestyle magazine Robb Report priced it at $40.3m (£33.8).
Heesen on its website describes the vessel as a “fast-cruising aluminium semi-displacement yacht with crisp design language and enviable appeal … A shallow draft of only 2.15m makes her a versatile cruising yacht for both the clearwater bays of the Bahamas and the Mediterranean sea”. It can accommodate up to 12 people.
According to the source at the Damen shipyard, Aquamarine was brought in to Vlissingen for “structural changes”, on 16 November 2021 but the source said no work has been done on the ship since 10 March, the day the UK sanctioned Abramovich.
“Only the crew onboard is allowed to work on the boat. But Damen or any other subcontractors are not working on it.”
The Netherlands on Wednesday announced that 14 unnamed yachts linked to Russian sanctioned individuals – 12 of which are still being built – were seized by Dutch customs authorities as part of EU’s sanctions against Russia.
There is nothing to suggest that Aquamarine was among the vessels seized.
Dutch customs officials and the foreign ministry declined to comment on the ownership and status of Aquamarine, citing the country’s strict privacy laws. Damen also said they did not comment on the status of individual clients.
Davidovich said: “To my knowledge, Aquamarine is not subject to any sanctions.”
While a number of Russian sanctioned billionaires have seen their megayachts confiscated across ports in Europe, the former Chelsea owner has taken steps to avoid such a fate by moving his two giant vessels – the 140-metre Solaris and the 163-metre Ecliples – to Turkish ports last month beyond the reach of western sanctions.
Abramovich has not publicly commented on why the two vessels were moved to Turkey.
The Financial Times earlier reported that two more yachts linked to Abramovich were currently moored on the Caribbean Island of Antigua. The government of Antigua has since confirmed that the two yachts moored on its territory belonged to Abramovich.