EXCLUSIVE Pictured: Inside luxury motor-yacht 'Cujo' used by Diana

EXCLUSIVE Pictured: Inside luxury 80ft motor-yacht ‘Cujo’ used by Diana and Dodi on their last summer holiday before their tragic deaths – as vessel sinks in the French Riviera after ‘hitting object’

  • Luxury vessel has plunged 8,200ft to the bottom of the Mediterranean
  • Cujo sank some 18 miles off Beaulieu-sur-Mer, near Nice, on Saturday
  • It was once owned by Prince Diana’s millionaire boyfriend, Dodi Fayed

A picture shows the interior of a luxury motor-yacht which has been enjoyed by Princess Diana and her boyfriend Dodi Fayed on their final summer holiday in the South of France days before their deaths in August 1997. 

Cujo, once a favourite of Hollywood superstars, disappeared below the waves of the Mediterranean 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 80ft-long boat ended up at a depth of almost 8,200ft (2,500m), local police said.

‘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.

The main salon of the Cujo (pictured in 2021 while Simon Kidston owned the vessel), the yacht Diana and Dodi were on during their last summer holiday before their deaths

Cujo, a yacht once owned by Princess Diana’s millionaire boyfriend Dodi Fayed, is seen sinking off Beaulieu-sur-Mer near Nice

Princess Diana on Cujo’s deck as it comes into port in St Tropez in August 1997

The Princess on Cujo, where she spent her final summer holiday before she was killed in a car crash in Paris

Diana with Dodi Fayed during their holiday in the Mediterranean off the South of France

The boat disappears below the waves before coming to rest 8.200ft below the surface

Millionaire Dodi Fayed reportedly spent £1million to refit the boat after he bought it

Cujo disappeared below the waves of the Mediterranean on Saturday after hitting an unidentified object some 18 miles off Beaulieu-sur-Mer on the French Riviera

All those on board, including 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 Fayed.

The multi-millionaire film producer had spent some £1million refitting the boat, and wooed Diana on board as the world’s media looked on.

Just days later the couple were killed 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 Dodi’s father, retail billionaire Mohamed al-Fayed, which was previously named 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 Cujo on August 22, 1997

Princess Diana on Jonikal, which was owned by Dodi’s father, Mohamed al-Fayed

The Princess on board 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 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 Fayed.

Dodi 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 being ferried in a speedboat in the waters off St Tropez in July 1997

Cujo was frequently moored off St Tropez, the most famous celebrity hotspot on the Riviera, with guests including Clint Eastwood, Tony Curtis and Bruce Willis on board.

Following the death of Princes Diana and Dodi, Cujo fell into disrepair.

It was decommissioned in 1999, and spent years in storage, before being restored by new owners.

The boat was bought for a song in 2020 by luxury vehicle dealer Simon Kidston. The Mail reported that he paid just £138,000

He claimed to have bought the yacht by accident, telling the 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.

The boat was reportedly sold in 2020 to an Italian socialite who had fallen in love with it

Luxury car dealer Simon Kidston claims to have bought it at auction for just £138,000

Simon claimed to have bought the boat for a laugh, telling the Robb Report he bid ‘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 Cujo, fallen in love with her and asked if she was for sale. He took delivery just in time for his birthday.’

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