SERENE is in New Zealand which is sure to make some news seeing as it’s the largest superyacht ever to visit. Grant Bradley of The New Zealand Herald shows us video and gives some insight into this yacht and even more interestingly the owner, Yuri Schefler.
Yuri Schefler, the Russian owner of Serene, avoids publicity and stays away from the Motherland after falling out with Russian president Vladimir Putin. He is in his late 40s and is the head of SPI Group, which produces and distributes Stolichnaya vodka and other labels once owned by the Soviet Union.
After leaving the Russian army in September 1987, Schefler studied at the Russian Academy of Economy before starting a business career which has included running one of Moscow’s leading shopping malls and an airline.
He branched into the spirits business and through a series of deals he added distilleries, a retail network in Russia and the Baltic states and developed an international distribution arm. In 1997 he bought a company that became the heart of what has grown into SPI today. But Schefler made a powerful enemy in Russian President Putin, who launched a campaign to wrest control of Stolichnaya back to the state soon after coming to power in 1999. An arrest warrant for Schefler was issued in 2003.
Schefler has not lived in Russia since early last decade and SPI has its headquarters in Luxembourg.