The famous motor yacht that Princess Diana enjoyed on her last summer vacation in the south of France has sunk to the bottom of the sea.
Cujo, once also a favorite of Hollywood superstars, disappeared under the waves of the Mediterranean after colliding with an unidentified object off Beaulieu-sur-Mer on the French Riviera on Saturday.
Seven people on board were rescued after the accident, but the ship ended up at a depth of almost 2,500 m (8,200 ft), local police said.
“The captain of the Cujo issued a Mayday,” an officer said. His ship was sinking due to a leak.
“Rescue boats were dispatched from Antibes and after ensuring everyone was safe, the gendarmes detected a significant water leak at starboard forward hull level.
Princess Diana (pictured) took her last summer vacation at the Cujo before tragically dying in Paris in 1997
The yacht was owned by Princess Diana’s millionaire boyfriend, Dodi Al-Fayed, and was one of the fastest yachts in the world.
Sadly, the legendary ship now rests 2,500m underwater, French police have revealed.
“Her owner had activated the pumps and kept the engines running, but this did not stop the ship from sinking.”
Rescue boats also arrived but were unable to prevent the ship from sinking some 18 nautical miles offshore.
Everyone on board, including the Cujo’s Italian owner, was placed in a rescue boat and brought back to shore without injury.
Reports about Cujo, an Indian word meaning “Unstoppable Force,” dominated the media in August 1997, when it was owned by Diana’s boyfriend, Dodi Al-Fayed.
The billionaire film producer had spent around £1 million to refit the ship and courted Diana on board as the world’s media watched.
This was shortly before the couple died in a car accident in central Paris caused by their drunk driver.
That summer, Diana was also photographed on Sokar, the yacht then owned by Al-Fayed’s father, billionaire retailer Mohamed Al-Fayed.
Princess Diana was known to spend significant periods of her life in the south of France.
The Cujo sank about 18 nautical miles off Beaulieu-sur-Mer on the French Riviera.
After the deaths of Princess Diana and Dodi Al-Fayed, the ship fell into disrepair before it was purchased and restored by its new owners.
The couple were seen kissing and embracing on deck less than a year after Diana and Prince Charles’ divorce was agreed.
Diana, then 36, was seen strutting around on deck, making the most of the Mediterranean sun and her newfound romance.
A snapshot of the former royal looking into the distance from the yacht’s diving board was one of the last photographs ever taken of Diana.
Cujo was built in Italy in 1972 for businessman John von Neumann after he told Italy’s Baglietto shipyard that he wanted the fastest motor yacht in the world.
It was equipped with two 18-cylinder engines that ensured a maximum speed of 42 knots.
Van Neumann then sold the ship to the son of Adnan Khashoggi, the world’s richest arms dealer, and sold it to his cousin, Dodi Al-Fayed.
Cujo frequently docked at St Tropez, the Riviera’s most famous celebrity hangout, with celebrity guests including Clint Eastwood, Tony Curtis and Bruce Willis on board.
Following the death of Princes Diana and Lord Al-Fayed, Cujo deteriorated.
It was decommissioned in 1999 and spent years in storage before being restored by new owners.
It was bought for pennies in 2020 by luxury vehicle dealer Simon Kidston.
He claimed to have bought the yacht by accident, telling the luxury magazine. Robb Report: ‘On the day of the auction, I was busy with customers, so I asked a colleague to come down and take a look. I told him if it was going to be cheap, make an offer for a little fun.
‘The bid was opened with only 150,000 euros. My colleague offered 160,000 euros.
The problem was that no one else made an offer. The hammer fell and I bought a boat. The feeling was a mixture of emotion, tinged with terror.