Princess Diana and Dodi Fayed’s Former Yacht Sinks Off the Coast of France

According to French authorities, all passengers were safely rescued 
Diana Princess Of Wales is seen in St Tropez in the summer of 1997.
Photo: Michel Dufour/WireImage/Getty Images

Before their untimely deaths in the late summer of 1997, Princess Diana and Dodi Fayed spent a few brief paparazzi-festered weeks aboard Cujo, a 65-foot, military-style superyacht. As Robb Report described it, the boat was once the most famous in the world thanks to her high-profile passengers. Now, a little over a quarter of a century later, the infamous boat has sunk off the coast of France, reports The Independent. 

The boat sank quickly after the distress call was made. 

Photo: Gendarme Maël Blondeau and Reserve Major Philippe Domblides of Nautical Brigade of Antibes

According to a Facebook post from the Gendarmerie des Alpes-Maritimes, a division of the French military, passengers issued a distress call around 12:30 local time on July 29. A little under an hour later, a rescue boat arrived, finding the vessel’s bow already partially submerged. “The cabins of the yacht were already flooded, and only a few suitcases located in the kitchen and on the deck could be retrieved by the gendarmes,” reads the statement. The seven passengers who were on board had already evacuated and were safely on a nearby lifeboat. Rescuers and passengers then quickly left the area, as the boat sank 2,500 feet to the ocean’s floor. The cause of the accident was not shared; however, according to Boat International, sources claimed that the ship hit an unknown object floating near the center of the hull. 

Cujo was already halfway underwater when rescuers arrived. 

Photo: Gendarme Maël Blondeau and Reserve Major Philippe Domblides of Nautical Brigade of Antibes

The impressive yacht was originally launched in 1972, commissioned by its first owner John von Neumann. According to Robb Report, Von Neumann hired Italian shipyard Baglietto to build him a boat that was “faster than any other motoryacht on the water.” During its maiden voyage, Cujo had largely achieved this goal thanks to its twin 54-liter V-18 turbo diesel engines, which provided 2,700 horsepower and allowed it to easily hit 46 miles per hour. Von Neumann eventually sold the boat to arms dealer Adnan Khashoggi, who later passed the boat to Dodi Fayed, his nephew. 

At one point, the vessel was among the fastest in the world. 

Photo: Gendarme Maël Blondeau and Reserve Major Philippe Domblides of Nautical Brigade of Antibes

Though Princess Diana was among the most notable guests onboard—largely fueled by vicious tabloid coverage—other high-profile passengers hosted by Fayed included Clint Eastwood, Tony Curtis, Bruce Willis, and Brooke Shields. In addition to jaunts on Cujo, the sensationalized couple also spent time on superyacht Jonikal, which most recently sold in June of 2023. Following the passing of Di and Fayed, Cujo fell into disrepair and decommissioned in 1999. After many years in storage, Fayed’s cousin Moody Al-Fayed purchased the vessel and brought it back to life. He later sold the boat to Simon Kidston, a British car collector and restorer and the last-reported owner of the vessel.