Today in Hot Superyacht Probs

Hoist the Black:

Rep. Lance Gooden has introduced legislation that would allow U.S. citizens to seize the yachts, jets, and other property belonging to Russian oligarchs who have been sanctioned in response to the invasion of Ukraine.

Privateering is essentially legal piracy. In the age of sail, it was common for nations to issue letters of marque licensing private citizens to raid the shipping of enemy nations. The practice died down in the 19th Century with the Paris Declaration of 1856 outlawing privateers. However, the United States never signed the Paris Declaration, and Article I of the Constitution gives Congress the power to issue letters of marque. [...]

"Privateers in history are for when you don't have enough forces," Singer told the Signal via email. "Today, the U.S. Navy has no problem finding or seizing these yachts if it so wanted." Indeed, privateers seem even more unnecessary when the navies and coast guards of the various allied countries that have joined the United States in sanctioning Russia.

Furthermore, privateers are typically reserved for war, and setting them loose on Russian oligarchs could spark a broader conflict between the United States and Russia. "While Ukraine is at war with Russia, we are not."

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18 Responses:

  1. Elusis says:

    Well, I've already got a full pirate kit, so point me at some sweet Russian assets here in Seattle and let me at 'em.

  2. Zygo says:

    You wouldn't download a yacht

  3. Krunch says:

    What happened to the sacrosanctity of private property?

    • Nik says:

      Option a - use seizure/denial of proceeds of crime by a rogue nuclear superpower and its cronies as a deterrent to random wars in Europe.

      Option b - let a rogue nuclear superpower continue its rampage across Europe unimpeded and hope for the best, because that approach has gone well so far.

      • Nik says:


        I'm sure any legislation won't be misused in future/immediately.


        You don't bring an army to an insane sociopath nuke party.

      • Krunch says:

        (c) listen to what they have been saying all along and don't escalate this into a desperation-driven nuclear war.

        I found this talk illuminating in a distressing sort of way:

        That said, I was being sarcastic about private property.

  4. Adelson says:

    He said his name was Jim Clark, and he had just created a new Internet company called Netscape. To buy the yacht of his dreams, he explained, he had persuaded his board of directors to take Netscape public...

    The New New Thing
    Michael Lewis
    p. 90

  5. Eric says:

    Curious how Disneyland is going to work this into Pirates of the Caribbean.

  6. giltay says:

    When the Canadian ambassador was asked for comment, she replied, "OH THE YEAR WAS SEVENTEEN SEVENTY-EIGHT".

  7. pakraticus says:

    Does this mean we get to seize Lance Gooden if it passes?
    I assume he's an asset of a Russian oligarch.

  8. Phil says:

    I think we’re due for a “superyacht” tag.

    • jwz says:

      Maybe. Or maybe a "klept" tag for all the Hot Billionaire Probs.

    • jwz says:

      I think the overlap between a "klept" tag and the existing "corporations" tag would probably be 100%.

      • Tyler says:

        While I realize they're the same people, one is the pursuit of happiness by making a shit ton of money, and the other is the pursuit of happiness by spending a shit ton of money.

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