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Mark Zuckerberg Reportedly Scoops Up $300 Million Sanctioned Russian Superyacht

Facebook figurehead Mark Zuckerberg is the latest tech icon to get into the superyacht game. After Amazon tycoon Jeff Bezos got Florida riled up in November when he sailed into Miami with the 417-foot Koru, not to mention its 246-foot support vessel Abeona, it may have inspired Zuck to hit the high seas.

Thankfully, he didn't get turned off by Google CEO Eric Schmidt's saga trying to buy the Alfa Nero.

Nevertheless, the superyacht news machine tuned in when Zuckerberg visited the Feadship shipyard in The Netherlands in December. At the time, rumours were abound he was interested in Project 1010, which was peculiar as it was believed to already be allocated for a Russian businessman.

Not so, it appears.

It appears Zuckerberg has just taken delivery of Project 1010, which begs two questions. One, how did he swoop in to acquire the vessel? And two, what's the deal with the 1010?

Let us discuss.

According to eSysman SuperYachts, the social network kingpin bought the blacklisted yacht from a sanctioned Russian businessman who couldn't finalize the purchase due to the ongoing war in Ukraine. Zuckerberg reportedly paid somewhere in the neighbourhood of $300 million USD for the vessel, which has since been named Launchpad. There was also the additional $30 million USD for the support vessel which now goes by the moniker Wingman.

Based on the few available photos of Wingman, she seems to be equipped with a helipad, multiple tenders, and like all superyacht support vessels, will have room for numerous smaller toys like jet skis, pleasurecraft, and assorted watertoys.

As for Launchpad, it's no small vessel. It's the biggest superyacht to come out of the Feadship yard and the largest by volume ever built in The Netherlands. It carries an impressive LOA of 387 feet long (118 meters) with over 5000 GT in volume. It was reportedly launched in August 2022, but due to the sanctions issue, it was recently put up for sale.

According to its recently enabled AIS tracker, Launchpad is currently en route to Gibraltar.

In a video posted by eSysman Superyachts, the yacht will be refueling in Gibraltar to "fulfill her requirements to leave the EU after being delivered to avoid paying taxes on the build which would otherwise be due."

eSysman Superyachts also addressed how Zuckerberg was able to purchase the yacht despite it having already been purchased and built for an unnamed sanctioned Russian buyer. There are unconfirmed reports that the mysterious Russian buyer was Vladimir Potanin, the wealthiest man in Russia and the 48th richest man in the world (it's worth noting that Zuckerberg is currently the 4th richest man in the world with a net worth of $176 billion).

"The reason he's able to purchase it is because the Dutch government has intervened in a number of sales of a number of yachts built in The Netherlands when the original owners are Russian. In the agreement, owners can sell the yacht to a non-sanctioned individual, of course. The Dutch government puts the money into a kind of escrow account and then they will hold onto that money until sanctions are removed against that person, and that person will collect the money. So Zuckerberg, although he's purchasing the yacht from that person, he's not paying that person which would be breaking sanction rules. So that's how he's able to take possession of that yacht."

Launchpad will soon head across the Atlantic, presumably to rendezvous with Zuckerberg on the west coast. The headquarters for Meta, Facebook's parent company, are in San Francisco Bay.

There's the small matter of modern-day pirates in San Francisco Bay, but presumably there will be enough security around Launchpad that Zuck won't have to walk the plank.

You can see the Launchpad in action, as well as an explanation of her current legal status, in the video below:

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