How Russian oligarchs seized the mega yacht industry

After the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, some Russian oligarchs were able to amass huge fortunes ranking among the richest men in the world.

According to Forbes, “Russia currently has 77 billionaires despite the country’s economic crisis.”

Over the past two decades these Russian oligarchs have been instrumental in the development of the yachting industry, setting a new benchmark for what a mega yacht is all about.

In 1990 the superyacht world was mainly dominated by Middle Eastern royal families and Greek tycoons like Stavros Niarcho (he commissioned Atlantis and Atlantis II). The 147-meter Prince Abdulaziz, owned by the Saudi royal family, was once the largest yacht in the world.

In the late 1990s and early 2000s, the mega-yacht industry began to shift into the hands of the Russian mega-rich and American tech billionaires. From 1992 to 2005, 20 super yachts over 80 meters in length were delivered, surpassing the 19 mega yachts distributed between 1865 and 1992.

These new mega yachts include Paul Allen’s famous Octopus, David Geffen’s Rising Sun and Boris Berezovsky’s Radiant. Also becoming very famous was Roman Abramovich’s super fleet, which consisted of the yachts Sussurro, Ecstasea, Le Grand Bleu, Luna, Pelorus and Eclipse.

The financial crisis of 2008 hit the yachting industry hard, especially the sales of small and medium sized boats.

When many thought the mega yacht world would also collapse, it continued its exponential growth. Between 2008 and 2016, another 48 mega yachts have been built, doubling the number of yachts over 80 meters in length delivered in previous decades.

Even larger private ships began to be built, such as the 162.5-meter Eclipse delivered to Abramovich in 2010. This growth in uncertain times was due to the proliferation of Russian oligarchs.

Serene was the first ship built by Ficantieri and was ordered by Yuri Sheffler before being sold to a Middle Eastern buyer in 2015. In 2008, the year of the economic downturn, Alisher Usmanov took delivery of the 110-meter Dilbar yacht.

Afterwards, many thought that the mega yacht industry would finally collapse with Russia’s economic crisis. However, the demand for these huge vessels did not wane. In 2014, the 104-meter Quantum Blue was delivered to Sergey Galitskiy and Viktor Rashnikov bought the 140-meter Ocean Victory.

In the summer of 2016 a new Dilbar, now speculated to be the world’s largest yacht in sheer tonnage, was provided to Usmanov. As for Abramovich’s marina, it is now distributed among several Russian owners after the Chelsea FC owner sold some of his toys.

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The mega yacht industry continues to grow, and we remain hopeful that we could soon witness a 200-meter yacht.

Here are some of the most advanced and industry-leading yachts that have been commissioned by Russian oligarchs in the last two decades.

Eclipse (162.5 meters) – Roman Abramovich

The 162.5-meter yacht was built by Blohm & Voss in 2010 and held the title of the world’s largest yacht until 2013, when the 180-meter Azzam took the throne.

Although full details of the yacht were not disclosed, it is known that her interior features designs by London-based Terence Disdale Design.

It is speculated that the Eclipse has a military-grade anti-missile system, is armored, and even the windows are bulletproof.

It has three helipads, a private theater and a gymnasium.

Dilbar (156 meters) – Alisher Usmanov

The world’s largest yacht by volume, the 156-meter Dilbar was delivered to Alisher Usmanov in May 2016.

Lurssen maintained total confidentiality regarding the mega yacht’s features, but we know that the exterior design is authored by Espen Oeino and the interiors by Andrew Winch.

It is also known that the vessel has a steel hull and an aluminum superstructure.

The Russian oligarch has another Lurssen superyacht, the 110-meter Ona, which previously had the name Dilbar (in its first version).

Ocean Victory (140 meters) – Viktor Rashnikov

Delivered by Fincantieri in 2014, Ocean Victory was designed by Espen Oeino.

Owned by Viktor Rashnikov, the vessel accommodates 36 guests, has 6 swimming pools spanning 7 decks, a 14-meter speedboat, two helipads and a spacious spa.

A (119 meters) – Andrey Melnichenko

M/Y A, owned by Andrey Melnichenko, is now for sale. She was built by Blohm & Voss in 2008.

Designed by Philippe Starck she is capable of accommodating 14 guests in 7 luxury staterooms, and also has space for a crew of 42.

Melnichenko’s second super yacht is currently under construction in Germany.

It is a 142.8 meter vessel named S/Y A. According to the Daily Mail this ship is being built at a cost of $450 million (€400 million).

Madame Gu (99 meters) – Andrei Skoch

According to Forbes Russia, the 99-meter super yacht belongs to Andrei Skoch.

Madame Gu was built by Feadship in 2015 and delivered after four years of construction.

Andrew Winch is responsible for the exterior design and De Voogt is responsible for the naval architecture. She accommodates 12 guests in six cabins.

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The crew quarters consist of 18 cabins for 36 members.

This super yacht has 3,600kW MTU engines that provide a top speed of 24 knots and a cruising speed of 22 knots.

Palladium (95.15 meters) – Mikhail Prokhorov

With an original design by Michael Leach, the Palladium belongs to Mikhail Prokhorov.

This 95.15 meter yacht was built by Blohm & Voss in 2010.

It has a steel hull and aluminum superstructure.

Nirvana (88.5 meters) – Vladimir Potanin

Built by Oceanco in 2012, Nirvana was the star of the Monaco Yacht Show due to its revolutionary features.

Owned by Vladimir Potanin, the yacht features a jungle-themed interior design. It also houses two swimming pools, a spa and ample lounging areas.

Designed by Sam Sorgiovanni, this vessel has a transpacific range and a top speed of 19.5 knots. Nirvana came to be for sale at 199 million euros ($223 million), but the sale never happened.

Could it be that Vladimir did not want to share this yacht with his ex-wife and that is why it disappeared after 30 years of marriage?

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is the significance of Russian oligarchs in the mega yacht industry?
    Russian oligarchs have played a significant role in the development and growth of the mega yacht industry. They have amassed huge fortunes after the fall of the Soviet Union, making them some of the richest individuals in the world. Their wealth and influence have led to a shift in the industry’s dominance from Middle Eastern royal families and Greek tycoons to Russian mega-rich individuals and American tech billionaires.
  • How did the Russian oligarchs contribute to the growth of the mega yacht industry?
    The Russian oligarchs have commissioned and owned some of the most advanced and industry-leading yachts in the last two decades. They have set new benchmarks for what a mega yacht is all about. Their ownership of these luxurious vessels has attracted attention and further investments in the industry.
  • Who are some notable Russian oligarchs and their yachts?
    Roman Abramovich, a prominent Russian oligarch, owns the 162.5-meter yacht called Eclipse. It was built by Blohm & Voss in 2010 and was the world’s largest yacht at the time.
    Alisher Usmanov owns the 156-meter yacht named Dilbar, which is the world’s largest yacht by volume. It was delivered in May 2016.
    Viktor Rashnikov owns the Ocean Victory, a 140-meter yacht delivered by Fincantieri in 2014.
    Andrey Melnichenko owns the M/Y A, a 119-meter yacht built by Blohm & Voss in 2008. He also has a 142.8-meter vessel named S/Y A under construction.
    Andrei Skoch owns the 99-meter super yacht called Madame Gu, built by Feadship in 2015.
    Mikhail Prokhorov owns the Palladium, a 95.15-meter yacht built by Blohm & Voss in 2010.
    Vladimir Potanin owns the Nirvana, an 88.5-meter yacht built by Oceanco in 2012.
  • What are some notable features of these yachts commissioned by Russian oligarchs?
    The Eclipse, owned by Roman Abramovich, is known for its size and luxurious features. It has three helipads, a private theater, a gymnasium, and a military-grade anti-missile system.
    The Dilbar, owned by Alisher Usmanov, is the world’s largest yacht by volume. It has an exterior design by Espen Oeino and interiors by Andrew Winch.
    The Ocean Victory, owned by Viktor Rashnikov, accommodates 36 guests and features six swimming pools, a 14-meter speedboat, two helipads, and a spacious spa.
    The M/Y A, owned by Andrey Melnichenko, can accommodate 14 guests in seven luxury staterooms and has a crew capacity of 42. It was designed by Philippe Starck.
    The Madame Gu, owned by Andrei Skoch, has 12 guest cabins and 18 crew cabins. It features a top speed of 24 knots and a cruising speed of 22 knots.
    The Palladium, owned by Mikhail Prokhorov, has a unique design by Michael Leach. It has a steel hull and aluminum superstructure.
    The Nirvana, owned by Vladimir Potanin, has a jungle-themed interior design, two swimming pools, a spa, and ample lounging areas. It has a transpacific range and a top speed of 19.5 knots.
  • How has the mega yacht industry continued to grow despite economic downturns?
    The mega yacht industry has shown resilience and continued to grow even during uncertain times, such as the financial crisis of 2008 and Russia’s economic crisis. The demand for these luxurious vessels, especially among Russian oligarchs, has remained strong. Between 2008 and 2016, the number of mega yachts over 80 meters in length doubled, indicating sustained growth in the industry.
  • What is the outlook for the mega yacht industry?
    The mega yacht industry is expected to continue its growth trajectory, and there is even hope for the development of 200-meter yachts in the future. The involvement of Russian oligarchs and their ongoing investments in these luxurious vessels contribute to the industry’s expansion and innovation.
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