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Luxury Yacht Of Ex-Kremlin Media Boss Lesin, Found Dead In Washington, Is Sold

The asking price for the yacht was 36 million euros.
The asking price for the yacht was 36 million euros.

WASHINGTON -- A luxury motor yacht belonging to Russian President Vladimir Putin's late press minister has been sold to an unnamed buyer nearly six months after the former Kremlin insider was found dead in a Washington hotel room.

The sale of the 55-meter boat, announced by Florida-headquartered yacht brokerage IYC, comes amid the continuing mystery of Mikhail Lesin and the circumstances surrounding his sudden death, as well as ongoing questions about his estate and assets.

IYC said the boat was sold on April 26 but gave no further details as to selling price, the buyer, or the actual entity that sold it, saying only it was an "impressively fast sale."

Katya Jaimes, an agent for the sale, declined to give RFE/RL any further details, except to say the boat was originally listed for 36 million euros ($40 million).

Press reports in Australia said the yacht had been in Australia for repairs when Lesin was found dead in the Dupont Circle Hotel in Washington on November 5. The craft then was piloted to Florida and listed in time for a major international boat sale in Palm Beach, IYC said.

Mikhail Lesin
Mikhail Lesin

Lesin was a major player in the Russian television industry whose company, Vi, became one of the largest brokers for television advertising in Russia, as well as Eastern Europe. As press minister in the early years following Putin's rise to the presidency, he helped consolidate Kremlin control over national broadcasters. Later on, he helped create the English-language, state-owned television channel Russia Today, now known as RT.

He fell out of favor with the Kremlin in 2013, and largely dropped out of public view.

In December 2014, a U.S. senator asked federal authorities to investigate Lesin and some of his real-estate assets in California for potential money laundering. Through a corporation known as Dastel, Lesin and his family owned at least two mansions in the wealthy Los Angeles suburb of Beverly Hills.

In November, Lesin was in the U.S. capital and had been invited to attend a fund-raiser for a Washington think tank honoring a prominent Russian banker. Attendees said he never appeared at the fund-raiser, and two days later his body was found in his hotel room.

In March, Washington's medical examiner said Lesin had died of blunt force injuries to the head and other parts of his body, stoking speculation that he may have been murdered.

The autopsy report said the manner of death for Lesin was still under investigation. A spokesman for city police did not immediately return a call from RFE/RL.

The disposition of Lesin's estate remains unclear. No probate records have been filed to date.

At the time of his death, many of Lesin's family, including his estranged wife, were still believed to be living in California. His son, Anton, is a well-known financier of Hollywood movies. His daughter, Ekaterina, has worked as a producer for RT.

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    Mike Eckel

    Mike Eckel is a senior correspondent reporting on political and economic developments in Russia, Ukraine, and around the former Soviet Union, as well as news involving cybercrime and espionage. He's reported on the ground on Russia's invasion of Ukraine, the wars in Chechnya and Georgia, and the 2004 Beslan hostage crisis, as well as the annexation of Crimea in 2014.

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