Russian Oligarch Yacht Used by Celebrities and Influencers Sanctioned by US

The Flying Fox superyacht was chartered by Beyonce, Jay-Z, and Jake Paul before it was detained in the Dominican Republic this March.
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Ethan Swope / Stringer

On Thursday, the United States imposed sanctions on Evgeniy Kochman, a Russian oligarch with close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin, as well as Kochman's yacht-for-hire company Imperial Yachts.

“Russia’s elites, up to and including President Putin, rely on complex support networks to hide, move, and maintain their wealth and luxury assets,” said Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Brian Nelson in a statement. “Today’s action demonstrates that Treasury can and will go after those responsible for shielding and maintaining these ill-gotten interests. We will continue to enforce our sanctions and expose the corrupt systems by which President Putin and his elites enrich themselves.”

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One of the sanctioned yachts, the Flying Fox, is notable because it’s a favorite of celebrities and influencers: The 450-foot-long, 67-foot-wide superyacht reportedly costs about $4 million a week to charter and is as lavish as you’d imagine. In 2021, Beyoncé and Jay-Z vacationed on the yacht, and this year influencer and celebrity boxer Jake Paul posted a TikTok of a party on the yacht that included a Jeff Bezos lookalike (Bezos was once rumored to own the yacht, which Amazon denied). 

Over the past few months, U.S. authorities have been hunting Russian oligarch yachts as part of an attempt to squeeze Putin’s inner circle and apply pressure that might stop the invasion of Ukraine. Yachts and other luxury assets are a key part of how oligarchs across the world hide and launder their wealth, often with the help of Western institutions and individuals. 

On visiting the Imperial Yachts website, you're greeted by a long message from a spokesperson regarding the sanctions: "We started this company from nothing, and now, it appears that due to our success, we are unfortunately being targeted by those who would like to bring us down." 

After the Flying Fox’s owner, Dmitry Kamenschik—the billionaire owner of the second-largest Russian airport—was added to the U.S. sanction list earlier this year, the superyacht was detained in March at a port in the Dominican Republic by US federal agents for a month

The superyacht has since disappeared—it was let out of detention in April, but it was last spotted in Gorcek, Turkey, according to vessel trackers.