Oligarch’s yacht ‘vanishes’ from dry dock in audacious heist

Irina VU

Heads are being scratched in Croatia, after a yacht owned by sanctioned Uzbek oligarch Alisher Usmanov allegedly disappeared from its dock in the central Adriatic.

Reports claim the yacht was replaced with a decoy yacht… almost three months ago. Alarmingly, the apparent heist has only just been noticed by authorities, despite the yacht being frozen under police custody.

Dnevnik.hr reports that the 35-metre Sunseeker 115 Irina VU, which had been dry-docked at a marina in Betina as part of western sanctions on Usmanov, was removed and sailed away to Turkey under cover of darkness, only to be replaced by an identical luxury ship to avoid any suspicion.

It’s understood from AIS data that Irina VU is now at the Didim marina in the Turkish part of the Aegean Sea in the Eastern Mediterranean. Turkey has so far refused to go along with western sanctions and has become a de facto ‘transit hub’ for Russia.

It seems as though nobody realised the yacht had left its dock, and local media is only just reporting its disappearance this week.

“We are still determining the circumstances of the yacht’s disappearance,” says Croatian Transport Minister Oleg Butković.

“We all know it vanished under still unclear circumstances. We shall now determine how that happened and whether there were any failings of the system,” he adds.

Butković says the Croatian intelligence service and the state prosecutor are both taking part in an ongoing investigation.

According to the State Secretary in the Ministry of the Sea Alen Gospocic, who is overseeing the investigation, there is no security at the marina.

In a media statement, Gospocic says authorities had followed protocol by contacting the yacht’s owner after it was arrested and taking it to Betina, where it was taken out of the water and put in dry docking.

However, there was nobody posted to keep watch over the yacht in its new location. “There are hundreds of vessels in the harbour and the harbour master cannot check which vessels are docked and which are not,” he adds.

Usmanov, who was labelled a “pro-Kremlin oligarch” with “close ties to Putin” when he was sanctioned last year, has an estimated wealth of about $15bn (£12bn). He made his fortune producing plastic bags, and built stakes in a range of metals, mining, telecom and media firms. Usmanov also formerly managed the investment holdings arm of Russia’s state-owned gas company Gazprom and has sponsorship links to Everton FC.


Usmanov is also the owner of megayacht Dilbar, considered the largest personal motor yacht in the world by gross tonnage. The yacht was detained in Hamburg last March as German authorities investigated Usmanov’s finances.

12 responses to “Oligarch’s yacht ‘vanishes’ from dry dock in audacious heist”

  1. Michael Moore says:

    In some jurisdictions arrested Vessels are placed within the custody of the Court having jurisdiction over the yacht. A Substitute Custodian is appointed by the Court and usually all persons onboard are removed and the Vessel remains safe and secure under arrest..
    In other Jurisdictions like South Africa Arrested Vessels are under what is akin to an honor system. No custodian is appointed and the Crew stays on board..
    Every jurisdiction is slightly different.

  2. Philmo says:

    Some serious blinkers and persuasion deployed, worthy of investigation!
    Where are Russian arms dealers’ yachts moored up?

  3. EMIP says:

    Look for recent arrivals in the Maldives from Croatian law enforcement and why the marina security guard is now driving a Tesla Model S Plaid.

  4. Dee Wight says:

    If they told you they would have to kill you…

  5. Pete Le plant says:

    Don’t forget the large bag of cash he got…. no proof
    good luck to him l say.

  6. Avast Meharty says:

    Oh come on, it was berthed in Croatia, any real surprise?

  7. Cameron Hutt says:

    All these yachts being ‘seized’ is comical. The countries seizing them don’t have a leg to stand on. Can’t afford to maintain them. Give them back and stop thinking you own the world. USA, UK and Europe need to realise they are not in control never have been.

  8. jeff stephens says:

    The world is full of corruption , mostly in government , police and circles of power .
    The UK should focus more on what our leaders are doing before concentrating on the obvious areas of the Eastern bloc.
    The scandal of phone hacking from a few years back and the lack of swift response or rigorous investigation was conveniently swept under the carpet along with a racehorse 🤔

  9. Ian Forrest says:

    Looks like this one slipped under the net what flag was it flying? Everton fc 😂

  10. Chris Treadwell. says:

    Hopefully it was the Ukranians,all the other yachts,assets,money confiscated will go towards rebuilding Ukraine.

  11. Peter Birss says:

    Why steal a yacht only to replace it with an identical one? There is something of value hidden in the first one.

  12. Jay says:

    Seizing the private property of Russian business men even though these men have not been convicted of any criminal offences may be emotionally satisfying but these seizures are flagrantly illegal. The “West” is destroying the rule of law while claiming to uphold a “rules-based” order.

This article was written and/or edited by the UK-based MIN team.

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