Following the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, some Russians were able to amass vast fortunes putting them amongst the richest men in the world. According to Forbes, Russia currently has 77 billionaires despite the country's current economic crisis.

In the past two decades, these oligarchs have been instrumental to the development of the yachting industry, setting a new benchmark as to what could be considered to be a megayacht.



In 1990, the world of megayachts was mainly dominated by Middle Eastern Royal families and Greek magnates such as Stavros Niarchos (commissioned the Atlantis and Atlantis II). The 147m Prince Abdulaziz, owned by the Saudi Royal family, was at the time the largest superyacht in the world.

In the late 1990s and early 2000s, the landscape of the megayacht industry however started to change with a new influx of owners from Russia and the US tech scene. From 1992 to 2005, 20 superyachts over 80 meters in length were delivered,  surpassing the 19 megayachts delivered from 1865 to 1992.

These new megayachts famously included Paul Allen's Octopus, David Geffen's Rising Sun, Berezovsky's Radiant but also the yachts that came to be known in the field as Abramovich's Navy consisting of SussurroEcstaseaLe Grand BleuLunaPelorus and later Eclipse.



As the financial crisis hit the sector in 2008, the small and middle-size yachting market was severely hit but while many thought the megayacht industry would collapse, it continued its exponential growth. Between 2008 and 2016, a further 48 megayachts have been built, doubling the previous decades' amount of yachts over 80m delivered.

Not only were there suddenly more megayachts but their size also grew with the 162.5m Eclipse being delivered in 2010 for Mr. Abramovich. This growth in uncertain times was once again, in most part, brought by an expanding class of Russian oligarchs. 

Serene, first yacht built by Ficantieri was ordered by Yuri Sheffler before being sold in 2015 to a Middle Eastern buyer. M/Y A was famously commissioned by Andrei Melnichenko and delivered in 2008, same year as Lurssen delivered the first 110m Dilbar to Mr Usmanov.



As many began to think that this segment would finally collapse with a weak recovery followed by recession in Russia, demand did not go away. In 2014, 104m Quantum Blue was delivered to Sergey Galitskiy and 140m Ocean Victory to Viktor Rashnikov. 

In the summer of 2016, a new Dilbar, which is now speculated to be the largest yacht by gross tonnage, was delivered to Mr Usmanov. As for Abramovich's Navy, it has now been split up with Eugene Schvidler now owning Le Grand Bleu, Farkhad Akhmedov buying Luna whilst Pelorus and Ecstasea were both sold to Middle Eastern buyers.  

Whether this growth of the megayacht sector will continue is questionable due to renewed turmoil in Russia's economy. Melnichenko's newest 142m S/Y A project however does seem to be a good indicator that there may be one day a 200m yacht.

Here below are some of the most advanced and industry-leading yachts that were commissioned by Russian oligarchs over the past two decades.

162.5m Eclipse - Roman Abramovich


Photo by Julien Hubert

The 162.5m yacht was built by  by German shipyard Blohm & Voss in 2010 and held the title of  the world's largest private yacht until 2013, when the 180 metre Azzam stole the crown. Although not all the details of the megayacht are unveiled, it is known that her interiors feature designs by the renowned London-based team at Terence Disdale Design. It is speculated that Eclipse boasts a military-grade missile defense system, armor plating and bulletproof windows, while hosting three helipads, a private theater and a fitness center. 

156m Dilbar - Alisher Usmanov


Photo by @superyachts_gibraltar

World's largest yacht by a volume, the 156m Dilbar was delivered to Alisher Usmanov in May 2016.  Confidentiality is upheld to the highest degree at Lurssen, which celebrated its 140th anniversary in 2015, but it is understood that Dilbar's exterior design comes from Espen Oeino with interiors by Andrew Winch. It is also know the yacht has a steel hull and aluminium superstructure. The Russian oligarch has another Lurssen superyacht, 110m Ona, that was previously named Dilbar as well.

140m Ocean Victory - Viktor Rashnikov



Delivered by Fincantieri in 2014, Ocean Victory is designed by Espen Oeino with interior spaces created by the late Alberto Pinto together with Sessa Romboli. Owned by Viktor Rashnikov, the vessel accommodates up to 36 guests. As with many other yachts of this size, she is packed with alluring features such as 6 pools spread out over her 7 decks, an internal floodable dock to house her 14m tender,two helipads and a vast spa area. 

119m A - Andrey Melnichenko



M/Y A, owned by Andrey Melnichenko is reportedly now for sale. A was built by Blohm+Voss in 2008. Designed by Philippe Starck, the vessel remains the most talked-about yacht on the seas. She is capable of accommodating 14 guests in 7 luxurious cabins, as well as a crew of 42. Mr Melnichenko's second yacht, the 142.8m S/Y A, is being built at the Nobiskrug shipyard in Germany. According to the Daily Mail, the new project will cost close to 450 million dollars.

99m Madame Gu - Andrei Skoch



According to Forbes Russia, the 99m superyacht belongs to Andrei Skoch. Madame Gu was built by Feadship in 2013 and delivered after four years of construction. Andrew Winch styled her exterior, whilst De Voogt was responsible for the naval architecture. With perfect proportions, it's hard to imagine that her tonnage exceeds 2,900 GRT. The interior, also designed by Andrew Winch, accommodates twelve guests in six cabins. The crew quarters are composed of 18 cabins for 36 members. This twin screw superyacht is powered by quadruple 3,600kW MTU engines providing a top speed of 24 knots and a cruising speed of 22 knots.

95.15m Palladium - Mikhail Prokhorov



With an original design by Michael Leach, Palladium, formerly Project Orca, is thought to be owned by Mikhail Prokhorov. Palladium is a 95.15m (312.17 ft) luxury motor yacht, built by Blohm + Voss in 2010. With a beam of 16.00m and a draft of 4.40m, she has a steel hull and aluminium superstructure. 

88.5m Nirvana - Vladimir Potanin



Built by Oceanco in 2012, Nirvana was the star of the Monaco Yacht Show the following year busting an aquarium aft and a set of revolutionary features. Owned by Vladimir Potanin, the yacht features a jungle-themed interior design. Nirvana also hosts two spa pools and extensive lounging accommodations. Designed by Sam Sorgiovanni, the yacht has a transpacific range and a maximum speed of 19.5 knots. Nirvana was previously listed for sale asking 199 million euros but was supposedly taken off the market without any sale occurring.

Latest News

CRN launch 74m Cloud 9
CRN Yachts, part of the Ferretti Group, have confirmed the launch of Cloud 9. The 74-meter Cloud 9 becomes the shipyard's second largest yacht to date, outranked only by the 80-meter Chopi Chopi.With an exterior by Zuccon and an interior by Winch Design, Cloud 9 is able to accommodate up to 16 guests (12 when chartering) in a master suite, a VIP suite and 6 guest cabins catered to by a crew of 22.Focused on a free interior-exterior flow, Cloud 9 boasts over 1,000 square meters of liveable space. Amongst the yacht's key amenities are a private deck, complete with an intimate lounging area, forward of the master cabin, an extensive beach club with an extended platform From a technical standpoint, the yacht is featured by twin Caterpillar 3516C engines of 2,680 hp each, giving Cloud 9 a maximum speed of 16.5 knots and a cruising speed of 15 knots.The owner's previous Cloud 9 was a 60-meter CMN built in 2009 and sold in June 2015 at an asking price of €34,900,000. She has since been renamed to Ice Angel, a name previously held by a 50-meter Heesen, which is currently on the market asking €24,500,000.
How much does a superyacht actually cost?
Yachts are hardly a mass market product and yet the superyacht market has carved out a niche in being even more exclusive, but how much does a yacht cost to build, buy or rent? Let's take a look at the current state of the market.Since the 1980s the amount of superyachts, ie yachts over 24 meters, has grown 600% with the worldwide fleet now counting over 10,000 vessels compared to around 1,500 in 1979. Deliveries of large sailing yachts have however remained constant throughout the decades with around 45 S/Y built per year since the 70s.This exponential growth was brought mainly by the construction of motor yachts. Indeed, the ratio of M/Y to S/Y built has exploded from 2 in the 1980s to a whooping 7 motor yachts delivered for each sailing yacht under construction today. As a result sailing yachts have often retained value better than their counterparts.The expansion of the worldwide fleet of superyachts has also had another significant effect, the accelerated depreciation of yachts on the brokerage market. A 43-meter Benetti Vision 145 could for example be built at a cost of €21,9 million in 2014 whereas a 10-year old model in mint condition such as M/Y Dia's could be bought for just €8 million on the brokerage market.This large difference in price is however not unique to this case and can be found across almost all yacht manufacturers. Heesen, a well-known Dutch shipyard, is currently selling its 47-meter Project Ruya for €29,9 million. Its 2012 sistership, Lady Petra is however up for sale at the same time asking €22,500,000, down from her initial asking price of €31 million when it was first listed for sale in 2014.On top of the initial purchase price must however also be added the yearly maintenance fees amounting to roughly 10% of the initial price of a new build. For a 55-meter yacht for example, this would represent close to $3 million per year.Crew salaries today represent the largest of those expenses with the starting salary of a deckhand onboard a 50-meter yacht orbiting around $40,000 per year and going over $200,000/year for captains on larger yachts. The balance sheet is further burdened with fuel costs, repairs and operating costs such as uniforms and food for the crew.To offset the operating costs, some owners turn to renting out their yachts to guests, which has created a market with near 1,400 yachts for charter throughout the world. Before the subprime crisis, these could represent a genuine business opportunity with some UHNWIs even building superyachts with solely charter in mind.Few yachts are however able to fully recoup their maintenance costs in today's market. The 72-meter Axioma for example, one of the most popular charter yachts on the market, generated over €7 million in revenue from charters in its first year alone. Yet, its current asking price of €68 million suggest these have barely outperformed operational costs.Many have therefore claimed that chartering a yacht has become the only financially justifiable option. It can indeed be argued that a like-new, 50-meter yacht could be chartered for near €250,000 per week during the summer season. To those would be added around 25% in fees of advanced provisioning, which would cover food, fuel, berthing fees and other expenses whilst charter guests are on board.Annual operating costs of such a yacht would be near €2 million per year, which equates to nearly 6 and a half weeks of charter. It would therefore seem one would need to spend at least two months onboard to justify the operating costs, let alone the full purchase price. Yet, every year, dozens of new build projects are started despite this financial reasoning.Prior to the 2008 crisis, an industry of yacht flippers had emerged with clients buying a slot for a superyacht at a prestigious shipyard and then reselling the yacht slightly before its launch. US businessman, Warren E. Halle had ordered 3 yachts from Lurssen in 2003, which he paid for €48 million a piece plus the cost of interior finishing. As following legal proceedings revealed, he later sold the first yacht (Project Marlin) for €65 million in 2006, the second one for €71,5 million in 2008 and kept the third one (Martha Ann) for himself, which is now on the market asking $79 million.This market has since evaporated with many shipyards that had committed to build on speculation, in order to retain ownership of their slots throughout the construction, facing difficult financial times. Italian shipyard Baglietto posted losses of €105 million in 2009 and was ultimately only saved by the Gavio Group, which brought it back to financial stability. Yet, despite this turmoil, at least 700 superyachts are currently under construction.The megayacht market is at the moment particularly strong with at least 6 projects over 100 meters currently in build at Lurssen alone and several other shipyards working on their largest yachts to date such as Benetti and Feadship. Historically this high demand for megayachts in the past decade has allowed their sales prices to remain higher than construction prices due to the gains in time a brokerage purchase offered.In 2011 for example, the late Russian oligarch, Boris Berezovsky managed to sell his Project Darius, under construction at Lurssen at the time, for €240 million to the Al Futtaim. He had however paid just €148,5 million, plus interior finishing costs, for the project as became known in a legal process that followed.A growing concern for superyacht builders has however become the increasing gap between the increasing number of individuals with a net worth of over €250 million and the stagnant number of new build projects. Some have speculated that a possible explanation for this shift is a disinterest with the new generation of younger UHNWIs to own yachts and an increasing preference to charter by picking from an ever-growing fleet.Dutch shipyard, Feadship has however delivered the 70-meter Joy, first yacht to boast an exterior design by Bannenberg & Rowell in modern history, to their youngest client yet. As a testament to her owner's young age, the superyacht features a basketball court on the bow and a gym surrounded by glass walls on the bridge deck.Despite all the financial reasoning that might nudge UHNWIs to charter rather than own, over 350 superyachts were sold in 2016 showing that the reasons behind owning a yacht might actually be dominated by the pleasure and freedom that owners get from their own superyacht.
Royal Huisman expands their shipyard facilities to Amsterdam
Royal Huisman is proud to announce their intention for the exclusive use of the facilities of Holland Jachtbouw (HJB) in Amsterdam following the anticipated termination of business by HJB after the passing away of founder Chris Gongriep.Together with Royal Huisman’s purpose built home base in Vollenhove on an area of over 30,000 sqm (consisting of 5 main shipbuilding halls) and the use of Emden Dockyard in Germany (surface of 300,000 sqm), the modern 12,000 sqm facility of HJB in Amsterdam incorporates 3 state-of-the-art halls with a maximum length of 60m, all overlooking 120m of waterfront with convenient access to open sea, all available for new-build, refit and commissioning.We regret to see a yard like HJB eventually cease to exist, but we do hope that with the intention of Royal Huisman to acquire the facilities we are able to keep the Netherlands firmly on the map for superyacht owners, keeping in mind our plans for diversification in the motor and sailing yacht sectorRoemer Boogaard, managing director of Royal HuismanIn November 2016 Royal Huisman's dedicated refit department, Huisfit, secured exclusive and exceptional deep water facilities at Emden Dockyard.
Work in progress on the first CCN K40 explorer Kanga
Italian shipyard Cerri Cantiere Navali has shared the construction update on its new K Series explorer yacht, 41 metre Kanga. Floating Life, who are managing the project, announced the sale of the yacht in 2015 and the build started in January 2016. Commissioned by the American owner, who plans to cruise around the world all the way up to the Poles, Kanga is being built to RINA standards. The yacht can sleep up to 12 guests in 5 staterooms, including an owner’s cabin, two double rooms and two twin rooms with Pullman berths, as well as a crew of 11. The tri-deck displacement yacht also has a 9.4m beam and features naval architecture by Vannini-Oleggini Naval Design. Designed by Studio Sculli, Kanga boasts wooden wall panelling with geometric shapes.Performance wise she will be fitted with a pair of 1,450hp Caterpillar C32 ACERT diesel engines, providing the yacht with a top speed of 16 knots. Thanks to her total fuel capacity of 65,000 litres, Kanga will have a maximum range of 5,400 nautical miles at 10 knots cruising speed.The yacht is expected to be completed before the end of the year.
Top 10 stories of the week
1. 98m superyacht Aviva hits the water at Abeking and RasmussenGerman shipyard, Abeking & Rasmussen has launched the largest yacht in their history, the 98-meter Aviva for UK billionaire, Joe Lewis. Over the last weeks the shipyard prepared a special launching system for the new yacht. A large pontoon from Norway had been shipped in and moored in front of the new building shed. A special hydraulic platform trailer with 60 wheels combined with a winch moved the 98m yacht onto the pontoon. Reymond Langton Design were chosen to style the exterior, who, working with designer Toby Silverton on the exterior, developed a sleek and elegant profile. Inside they created a modern interior with a full sized padel tennis court, 20m x 10m x 6m high. 2. Dilbar spotted in Barcelona, Spain Lurssen megayacht Dilbar has been recently spotted in Barcelona, Spain. She became Alisher Usmanov's, one of the Russian billionaires shaping the yachting industry, third yacht. 156m Dilbar, launched at Lurssen facility in November 2015, has officially become the world's largest yacht by volume with a gross tonnage of 15,917 tons, toping Al Said's 15,850 tons and Azzam's 13,136 tons. With a beam of 23 meters and a deep draft of 6 meters, the yacht's exterior was designed by Espen Oeino. Cabling used on board stretches over 1,100km with guests and owner's spaces totaling a combined 3,800 square meters of living space.3. Below Deck: the reality show that chartered 5 yachts in 4 yearsLaunched by Bravo in July 2013, Below Deck followed the lives of several yacht crew members during a charter season in no less than 53 episodes. For each season, producers chartered a different 50 meter yacht but however didn't always release the real names of these boats, which were altered for the show.4. Sabdes Design presents 85m concept in refreshing colourAustralian yacht designer Scott Blee has introduced his latest creation, 85m highly efficient and modern superyacht, developed by Sabdes Design studio, in October 2016. Now the studio has shared the renderings of its new yacht design seen in the Pantone Color Institute "colour of the year 2017" called "Greenery" (Pantone 15-0343). 5. The battle for the title of largest sailing yacht in the worldThe debate over what sailing yacht could claim the sough-after title of largest sailing yacht in the world has been a long and tedious one in yachting and with a few possible contenders in the running and more in build, it looks like the battle isn't over yet.Indeed, whereas it is clear that 180-meter Azzam is the longest yacht in the world and Dilbar is the most voluminous, both of these are motor yachts. With sailing yachts, the ranking is however much more opaque due largely to the measurement that is used.Loaded waterline length, known as LWL, is the measurement of the length of a vessel from the points where it sits in the water. On the other hand length overall, abbreviated as LOA, is defined as the maximum length of a yacht's hull, which for sailing yacht also includes the bowsprit, a key factor when measuring a sailing yacht and part of the difficulty in this ranking.6. 70m Rossinavi superyacht King Shark soldItalian shipyard Rossinavi has sold their 70-meter motor yacht project, King Shark. Capable of navigating in conditions of extreme ice, she will have a range of 6,000 nautical miles and a top speed of 17 knots. While there have been other motor yachts introduced to the market with ice exploration capabilities, King Shark’s point of difference is that it has been developed with an emphasis on yachting lifestyle, able to move from the warm waters of the Caribbean to the sub-zero conditions of Antarctica.7. Amels superyacht Here Comes The Sun deliveredThe largest Amels superyacht to date emerged at its facility in Vlissingen at the end of June 2016. And now we've been informed that the vessel has left the Netherlands for international waters. HERE COMES THE SUN is powered by twin Caterpillar engines 3,150hp each, providing her with a maximum speed of 17 knots. The superyacht has a maximum cruising range of 5,500 nautical miles when cruising at 15 knots.8. M/Y A spotted in Abu Dhabi, the UAELast year M/Y A, which is reportedly for sale at $300 million, has been spotted in such cities as Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Kiel, Bordeaux, off the Reykjavik coast in Iceland and cruising in the French Riviera. Now the most talked-about yacht on the seas has been seen in Emirates Palace Marina in Abu Dhabi, the UAE. 9. First Wally 93 sailing yacht in buildWally has announced the expansion of its range as the Monegasque brand sells the new cruiser-racer Wally 93, developed for an existing Wally owner who is a keen racing yachtsman. The yacht features the latest hull lines with the distinctive large stern and big interior volumes, resulting into the new generation cruiser-racer, superfast and very comfortable, and providing the ultimate experience in high performance sailing. The new Wally 93 is currently under construction using the most advanced composite technology, to provide for the super reduced displacement and increased rigidity.10. First Amer 110 yacht under constructionAmer Yachts has announced that the first Amer 110 yacht is under construction at the Italian shipyard's facilities. Destined for a special client, who has already bought three Amer Yachts in five years: a 92’, an Amercento and now the Amer 110’, the vessel will be launched in Spring 2017.