The world-famous celebrity motor-yacht enjoyed by Princess Diana and her boyfriend Dodi Fayed on their final summer holiday in the South of France before their deaths has sunk to the bottom of the sea.
The Cujo, once also a favourite of Hollywood superstars, disappeared below the Mediterranean waves after hitting an unidentified object some 18 miles off Beaulieu-sur-Mer, on the French Riviera, on Saturday.
Seven people on board were rescued following the accident, but the boat ended up at a depth of almost 2500m (8200ft), said local police.
‘The skipper of the Cujo issued a Mayday,’ said one officer. ‘His ship was sinking due to a leak.
‘Rescue boats were sent from Antibes, and, after making sure everyone was safe, gendarmes detected a significant water leak at the level of the starboard front hull.
‘Her owner had activated the pumps and kept the engines running, but this didn’t stop the boat sinking.’
Salvage launches also arrived, but could not save the boat from sinking.
The Cujo, a yacht once owned by Princess Diana’s millionaire boyfriend, Dodi Al-Fayed, is seen sinking off the coast of Beaulieu sur Mer near Nice
Princess Diana is seen standing aboard the Cujo as it comes into port in St. Tropez, August 1997
Princess Diana (pictured aboard the Cujo) took her final summer holiday on the yacht before she tragically died in Paris in 1997
The world-famous celebrity motor-yacht enjoyed by Princess Diana on her final summer holiday with then-boyfriend Dodi al-Fayed in the South of France is now at the bottom of the sea
The legendary boat is sadly now resting 2500m underwater, French police revealed
Millionaire Dodi Al-Fayed reportedly spent £1million to refit the boat after he initially bought it
The Cujo disappeared below the Mediterranean waves after hitting an unidentified object some 18 miles off Beaulieu-sur-Mer, on the French Riviera, on Saturday
All of those on board, including the Cujo’s Italian owner, were placed in a rescue boat, and taken back to shore without injury.
Reports about Cujo – an Indian word that means ‘Unstoppable Force’ – dominated the media in August 1997, when it was owned by Diana’s boyfriend, Dodi Al-Fayed.
The multi-millionaire film producer had spent some £1 million refitting the boat, and wooed Diana onboard as the world’s media looked on.
This was shortly before the couple died in a car crash 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, retail billionaire Mohamed Al-Fayed. It was previously named the ‘Jonikal’.
The pair were seen kissing and embracing on the deck less than a year after Diana and Prince Charles agreed their divorce.
Diana, Princess of Wales, right, and her companion Dodi Fayed, walk on a pontoon in the French Riviera resort of St. Tropez having just disembarked from the Cujo in this Friday, Aug. 22, 1997
Princess Diana was known for spending significant periods of her life in the south of France (Diana is pictured aboard the Jonikal yacht owned by Dodi’s father, Egyptian businessman Mohamed Al-Fayed, in 1997 months before her death)
Princess Diana is seen aboard the Jonikal, which was later renamed ‘Sokar’
Diana, then 36, was spotted strutting on the deck, making the most of the Mediterranean sun and her new romance.
A snap of the former royal gazing into the distance from the yacht’s diving board was one of the last pictures 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 world’s fastest motor-yacht.
She was fitted with two 18-cylinder engines that ensured she had a top speed of 42 knots.
Van Neumann then sold the boat to the son of Adnan Khashoggi, the world’s richest arms dealer, and he sold her on to his cousin, Dodi Al-Fayed.
Dodi al-Fayed and Diana are seen together aboard Dodi’s father’s yacht in St Tropez less than a year after Diana and Prince Charles had settled their divorce
The couple were photographed all summer long in 1997, a year after Diana’s divorce from Prince Charles, which was finalised in August 1996 (pictured on a speedboat in St Tropez in July 1997)
Cujo was frequently moored off St Tropez, the most famous celebrity hotspot on the Riviera, with celebrity guests including Clint Eastwood, Tony Curtis and Bruce Willis on board.
Following the death of Princes Diana and Mr Al-Fayed, Cujo fell into disrepair.
She 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. The Mail reported that the dealer bought the historic boat for just £171,000
He claimed to have bought the yacht by accident, telling luxury magazine Robb Report: ‘On the day of the auction, I was tied up with clients so asked a colleague to go down and take a look. I told him that if it was going cheaply, put in a bid for a bit of fun.
It was reportedly sold to an unnamed Italian socialite in 2020 who fell in love with it after laying eyes on the yacht
Luxury dealer Simon Kidston claims to have bought it at auction for just 160,000 Euros (£138,000)
Simon claimed to have bought the boat for a laugh, telling Robbs Report he put a bid down ‘for a bit of fun’
‘The bidding opened at just 150,000 Euros (£129,500). My colleague bid 160,000 Euros.
‘Trouble was, no one else bid. The hammer went down and I had bought a boat. The feeling was a mix of excitement, tinged with terror.’
He told the magazine that he sold the historic boat to a young Italian socialist in time for his birthday.
‘A young member of a prominent Italian business family—he’s 30 years old—had seen in Lavagna, fallen in love with her and asked if she was for sale,’
‘He took delivery… just in time for his birthday.’