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Russian billionaire's yacht enrages Venice

by Sail-World Cruising round-up on 8 Jun 2011
Ecstasea - rather large when it’s in your face... .. .

It's not even his biggest boat, but the citizens of Venice are up in arms about Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich and his girlfriend Dasha Zhukova, who have cast a shadow over St Mark's Square in Venice during the Biennale, one of the peak events of the year in Venice.

They've done it by merely anchoring their enormous megayacht in an otherwise scenic lagoon. The Russian oligarch arrived for this week’s Venice Biennale art extravaganza.

He wasn't the only Russian at the party though. The 'World Cup of modern art' saw an unprecedented number of Russian art lovers last week as they were dropping by in their private jets or luxury fleets.

A row of megayachts were lining the bank of the Giardiani last week, the public gardens hosting the national pavilions of the Biennale. It was the 282ft floating palace called Ecstasea that belonged to Roman Abramovich, governor of Russia’s Chukotka Region and richest man in the Russia.

'People in the city thought there are military maneuvers underway,' artist Pyotr Aksenov said jokingly.

Roman Abramovich turned up to Russia Russian modern art on the day after his arrival. Olga Sviblova, Mr. Abramovich’s good friend and curator of the Russian pavilion, met the tycoon to give him a tour around the exhibition.

But everyone wasn't as hospitable as Ms Sviblova.

'The boats are getting too big and blocking the view,'

Venice’s mayor, Giorgio Orsoni, complained to the press. 'These yachts are showing up to see Venice for free, but St. Mark’s Basin is being turned into a motorway and we have to start limiting the traffic.'

He says he may institute a new tariff on oversized yachts which some commentators have amusingly dubbed the 'oligarch tax.'

At least he didn’t bring the even bigger Eclipse on his art-buying jaunt – that would really have had the Venetians up in arms.

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