When the US targeted Russia’s oligarchs after the invasion of Ukraine, the trail of assets kept leading to our own backyard. Not only had our nation become a haven for shady foreign money, but we were also incubating a familiar class of yacht-owning, industry-dominating, resource-extracting billionaires.

For the last 18 months one of the most opulent and unnecessary vessels ever constructed has been floating in a narrow channel next to a jungle gym and a fleet of industrial cranes at the Port of San Diego. Built in Germany, and formerly managed by a firm in Monaco and flagged to the Cayman Islands, the superyacht Amadea is 348 feet long, with a helipad, a swimming pool, two baby grand pianos, and a 5-ton stainless steel art-deco albatross that extends outward from the prow like a bird reenacting Titanic. It can accommodate 16 guests and 36 crew, and costs $1 million a month just to maintain. Who, exactly, has been picking up that tab in the past is a matter of some dispute, tangled up in a web of trusts and LLCs, code names and NDAs, and legal proceedings in two countries. But the ship’s current owner is a bit less […]

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