Inside the 134m bought by a Saudi Arabian prince
The first superyacht ever built by Italian shipyard Fincantieri, the 134-meter Serene was delivered in 2011 to Russian billionaire, Yuri Scheffler. As was later revealed, the oligarch sold his superyacht in July 2015 to Saudi Arabia's deputy crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman for $458 million.
Featuring a salt-water swimming pool, a supersized hot tub, a sauna in front of the sea and a fully-operational helipad, Serene became known in yachting as one of the most inspiring superyachts ever completed.
At the time of her delivery, Serene was the 9th largest yacht in the world, barely topping the Emir of Qatar's 133-meter Al Mirqab and outdone by David Geffen's 138-meter Lurssen, Rising Sun. For the state-controlled Italian shipyard, Fincantieri, Serene was, however, the first yacht the company ever built, having primarily focused on commercial ships before.
Currently the 15th largest yacht, Serene turns heads anywhere she goes, not only due to her giant-like size, but also her exterior lines drawn by Espen Oeino and series of innovations in the interior.
Following the sale, her former owner, Scheffler claimed that Fincantieri's second yacht, the 140-meter Ocean Victory built for Russian billionaire, Viktor Rashnikov, had infringed on his intellectual property by building the superyacht on the same platform as Serene. As a result, Scheffler filled a suit against Fincantieri claiming €20,9 million from the shipyard in damages.
Whereas it is unknown how much exactly Scheffler spent building the 134-meter Serene at Fincantieri, it is widely believed in the superyacht sector that the vessel was sold at a profit by Scheffler to the Saudi Arabian deputy crown prince. As revealed by media as part of the Paradise papers, Serene was sold for €420 million.
At the time of the sale, some publications had reported that the sale was closed within several hours with the buyer having asked Scheffler to vacate the yacht within hours of the purchase. The new documentation that emerged through the Paradise papers leaks, however, tells a different story as the sale took at least 10 days to close. Before it could change hands, Serene had to cruise into international waters.
Stretching over a beam of 18.5 meters, Serene is 6 decks tall and boasts a myriad of amenities that few five-star hotels have. One of her most noticeable features from the outside is her supersized bathtub located aft of the sundeck.
One of the seven pools onboard Serene, the Jacuzzi on the top deck is surrounded by lounging pad for sunbathing. Forward of the hot tub is a fully-stocked, wet bar underneath the yacht's observational deck that features an additional set of sun loungers.
Up on the sundeck is yet another spa pool surrounded by lounging pads, located forward of the deck. This particular pool features bar stools and is connected to a fully stocked bar surrounded by two additional hot tubs. A table for casual dining can also be found in the shaded area of the sundeck.
Serene's interior was designed by British design studio Reymond Langton, incorporating a sophisticated mix of cream and dark colors with wooden fixtures. Offering views from any imaginable vantage point, Serene's sky lounge is equipped with a myriad of sofas, chairs and coffee tables for cocktails and tea.
A more formal location designed for the entertainment of larger groups, the main lounge features white colors with dark tones. At the center of the room is a piano with cocktail tables spread out across the room. Interestingly, this lounge sits just over the main dining room with its chandelier hanging through the two spaces and letting the music spread.
The formal dining area features two tables, capable of each accommodating up to 12 guests, bringing the total to 24 guests. Its layout, however, allows for the possibility to extend the table in order to hold larger banquets. On both sides of the room are floor-to-ceiling windows. In terms of food, Serene features a fire pizza oven as well as a teppanyaki grill.
Each space on Serene features a different set of colors, all coordinated across one central theme that spreads around the yacht with circles both on the floor and on the ceiling to create a sense of symmetry. Some of Serene's unique features include an indoor climbing wall as well as an underwater observation lounge.
The 134-meter yacht can carry a total of 24 guests across 12 staterooms divided into one master suite with essentially an owner's deck, a VIP cabin, three twin cabins and seven double staterooms. Serene carries a crew of over 40 people onboard.
Prior to the yacht being sold to the Saudi Arabian crown prince, Serene was made available for charter to select guests by Scheffler. These have included Microsoft founder, Bill Gates, who reportedly chartered Serene at a price tag of $5 million per week during the summer of 2014.
In addition to her vast interior spaces, Serene's exterior lounging spots have been optimized to best utilize the space onboard the 134-meter superyacht. Forward on the bow, for example, forward of the commercial-grade helipad can be found a lounging spot on the bow of the yacht. Although a long walk from the aft deck, these spaces are often used for maximum privacy when moored in a harbor.
Perhaps the most unique space onboard Serene is her swimming pool located aft of the main deck under a retractable glass roof. Up on the main deck, this opening can be closed with glass panels and is surrounded by lounging areas.
One of the most advanced swimming pools ever built on board a superyacht, it is the key element of the beach club that stretches for a large portion of the yacht's lower deck. Within the pool area are two additional Jacuzzis for the yacht's guests to relax in. On both sides of the yacht are lounging areas with access to the sea through foldable platforms.
Serene's beach club facilities, however, do not stop just with its pool. The superyacht features a full-sized spa with a sauna room with glass doors looking out onto the sea through a foldable platform. Next to the sauna are a hammam as well as a snow room.
Lighting systems were installed throughout Serene's exterior to ensure that the yacht could boast a sleek look at night as well as during the day. During the summer, the yacht could previously often have been seen lighting up Monaco and the Côte d'Azur.
Following her sale to the deputy crown prince of Saudi Arabia, the yacht started spending time in the Persian Gulf. During the summer of this year, Serene ran aground on a reef near Tiran Island in the Red Sea. Some damage is believed to have been sustained to her bow at the time, although the superyacht has been repaired since. Several days ago, she cruised to a shipyard in the Netherlands for maintenance work.
Currently valued at $1,6 billion by Forbes, Yuri Sheffler made his fortune in the alcohol business. Venturing into business in 1993, Sheffler made a series of moves that got him the rights to brands of vodka such as Stolichnaya, which was previously owned by a state-owned corporation. This has put him at the center of long litigations with the Russian government over the ownership of the brand.
Having left Russia for Switzerland and the United Kingdom during the early 2000s, Sheffler is currently the main shareholder in SPI Group, a conglomerate that sells alcohol under 380 brands in 160 countries. Earlier this year he acquired an estate in Scotland at an asking price of £25 million.
In 2014, Fincantieri launched its second megayacht, the 140-meter Ocean Victory which was commissioned by another Russian oligarch, Viktor Rashnikov, whose net worth is estimated at $4.8 billion. Prior to its launch in December 2014 however, Fincantieri was ordered to pay €20.9 million to Serena Equity Limited (the company controlled by Shefler that owned Serene) by London courts.
Shefler's main claim was that Fincantieri had used Serene, on which the billionaire says he holds intellectual property, to develop Ocean Victory which he says is a near sistership. In fact, both superyachts boast an exterior design by Espen Oeino and seem to have similar technical characteristics.
As such, English courts have granted Shefler €13,2 million for the violation of his intellectual property and €7.7 million for late deliveries, which were to be paid by Fincantieri where the Italian government holds a 70% controlling stake. Fincantieri, however, filed a motion in Trieste's Court of Appeals in 2015 to dismiss the fact that London's ruling applied.
Mohammad bin Salman, born in 1985, is the deputy crown prince of Saudi Arabia and currently sits as the youngest defense minister in the world and the first deputy Prime Minister of Saudi Arabia.
From a technical standpoint, Serene can reach a top speed of 25 knots and cruise at 15 knots. Reportedly, her interior volume comes in at 8,231GT, ie, half of Dilbar, the world's largest yacht by gross tonnage.