Italian police are investigating a mysterious $700 million superyacht moored there — amid ongoing rumors that it is owned by warmongering Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The Scheherazade’s captain confirmed to The New York Times that Italian investigators boarded the 459-foot in Marina di Carrara on Friday, demanding proof of ownership for what locals have long dubbed “Putin’s Yacht.”
“They are looking hard. They are looking at every aspect,” Captain Guy Bennett-Pearce told the paper amid ongoing moves to seize Russian oligarch-owned yachts.
“This isn’t the local coppers coming down, these are men in dark suits,” said the British national, using a UK term for police officers.
Bennett-Pearce refused to reveal the identity of the owner of the yacht, whose crew was at least 70 percent Russian, he said.
But he said he had “no choice” but to this week hand over documents revealing the owner’s identity to the investigating squad, which a source told The Times was led by Italian financial police.
One of the most expensive yachts in the world, Scheherazade has a swimming pool that converts to a dance floor, gold-plated fixtures — and two helicopter decks and numerous satellite domes, the report said.
Scheherazade is the title of a symphonic work by the Russian composer Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, and each of the last two summers has sailed to Sochi, The Times said of the Russian city where Putin is rumored to own a personal “palace.”
“Everybody calls it Putin’s yacht,” one local, retired clerk Ernesto Rossi, told The Times. “It’s a rumor that’s been going around for months.”
One former crew member told The Times that shipmates also called it “Putin’s yacht,” saying that when in use by the owner it was manned by an all-Russian staff.
Captain Bennett-Pearce admitted that he had also heard the rumor and local nickname, but said that a “watertight nondisclosure agreement” prevented him from identifying the owner.
However, he denied it was Putin, telling the paper, “I have never seen him. I have never met him.”
Confirming his plan to finally tell the Italian investigators the owner’s identity, he told the paper, “I have no doubt in my mind whatsoever that this will clear the vessel of all negative rumors and speculations.”
The Scheherazade’s builder, Lurssen Group, declined to comment to the paper about its ownership.