For four years, the ex-wife of a Russian oligarch has chased an unpaid $600-million divorce settlement—even suing her 27-year-old son for helping his billionaire dad stash hundreds of millions of dollars in assets out of her reach.
Now, in the latest twist in this family drama, Tatiana Akhmedova has hired veterans of the Special Boat Service—the British equivalent of the U.S. Navy’s SEAL Team 6—to seize the $500-million superyacht purchased by her ex-husband, Farkhad Akhmedov, a 66-year-old oil and gas tycoon and ally to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The high-stakes maneuver follows the London High Court’s recent ruling that Tatiana’s son, Temur, must pay her $106 million because he acted as Farkhad’s “lieutenant” and did “all he could to prevent his mother receiving a penny of the matrimonial assets.”
Indeed, Farkhad told his son he’d rather “burn” his money than hand any of it to Tatiana, 48, according to WhatsApp messages revealed in court.
The couple’s assets include mansions, a $140-million art collection that includes Andy Warhol, Mark Rothko and Damien Hirst, and the Luna, Farkhad’s 377-foot, nine-deck superyacht. The pleasure vessel, built in 2010 for his Russian billionaire buddy Roman Abramovich, has two helipads, a swimming pool, a mini submarine, an anti-missile defense system and a pair of lifeboats that also function as water limousines.
According to the Daily Mail, which first reported on the imminent special forces recovery mission, the megayacht is the “centerpiece” of Tatiana’s settlement. Since Farkhad had refused to pay Tatiana, a London judge in 2018 ruled that the billionaire must transfer ownership of the yacht to her.
As The Daily Beast reported, so far she’s only been able to recoup a fraction of her ex-husband’s wealth—partly via the sale of the second-hand helicopter—in what’s believed to be the world’s most expensive divorce proceeding. The London judge on Tatiana’s case against Temur has described the split as among the most bitter she’s ever seen.
“All happy families are alike, each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way,” Justice Gwynneth Knowles wrote in her ruling, quoting the opener of Leo Tolstoy’s Russian classic Anna Karenina. “With apologies to Tolstoy, the Akhmedov family is one of the unhappiest ever to have appeared in my courtroom.”
Tatiana, who is Russian but lives in London, is also fighting to recover her fortune with litigation in Dubai, Liechtenstein, New York and the Marshall Islands.
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A representative for Tatiana declined to comment for this story. But her lawyers told the Mail: “The Marshall Islands courts have formally awarded the M/Y Luna to Tatiana, we are of course using all options available to us to recover her as part of the rightful settlement awarded to Tatiana. We have therefore retained the services of a specialist company to retrieve all assets owed to our client.”
Last August, Dubai’s highest court ruled against Tatiana’s appeal to seize the Luna but her battle over the yacht continues in the Marshall Islands. The ship sails under the flag of the Marshall Islands and is owned by an entity in Liechtenstein, Reuters reported.
The High Court in London ordered Farkhad to transfer ownership of the superyacht to Tatiana in 2018, ruling that he’d “taken numerous elaborate steps to conceal his wealth” including in a “web of offshore companies.”
A spokesperson for Farkhad told the Mail that “all attempts to seize Luna in Dubai have been ruled illegal by Dubai’s most senior courts.”
“The dispute over Luna’s ownership has been heard in and fully resolved in Dubai,” the representative said, adding that any “unauthorized personnel seeking to set foot on Luna in Dubai will be arrested and jailed as the decisions of the most senior judges and courts have made plain.”