Suspected Fabergé egg found on seized oligarch’s yacht
The US Department of Justice has discovered an unexpected treasure aboard a Russian-owned yacht recently seized in Fiji.
Speaking at the Aspen Security Forum, US deputy attorney general Lisa Monaco told attendees that an item suspected to be a genuine Fabergé egg was uncovered on the superyacht, which was recently delivered to San Diego.
While US authorities haven’t named the yacht, it is understood to be Amadea, as this is the only seized yacht that matches this description.
The 106-metre Lurssen superyacht Amadea hit the headlines earlier this summer after a lengthy legal battle in which the yacht’s lawyers denied that sanctioned Russian billionaire Suleiman Kerimov was the ultimate owner. The yacht was restrained from leaving a Fiji marina while the case passed through the courts. The US ultimately won the case, and took the yacht to San Diego under a US flag in June.
The Fiji government had to foot a US$83,000 bill for every day the vessel remained berthed at the Lautoka Port – equivalent to a million Fijian dollars per week.
“Let’s get to the juicy stuff: the yachts,” said Monaco at the security forum. “We recovered a Fabergé – or alleged Fabergé – egg on one of these, so it just gets more and more interesting.”
Produced by the House of Fabergé during the final years of the Tsardom of Russia, from 1885-1917, Fabergé eggs are intricate, jewel-encrusted boxes that trade for amounts up to US$20 million. As many as 69 were created, of which 57 are believed to survive today.
While Kerimov is not known as an owner of Fabergé eggs, it’s possible he is among the private owners who are not publicly listed.
“We’re working with our law enforcement counterparts around the world to conduct searches on these yachts to make sure we have the authority and can go to a court, seize them and then forfeit the proceeds,” Monaco added.
It’s not known what would happen to the egg if it is indeed genuine. Monaco told the forum that she prefers the idea of funnelling the profits of seized assets back into Ukraine, and authority to do so has been requested from Congress.