Dude, where’s my $80m superyacht?
We all forget things from time to time. People forget their keys, others forget to pick up their kids from piano recitals and some forget where they have parked their 270ft (82m) superyacht.
The news this week brings us back to Alfa Nero (pictured, courtesy of Merijn de Waard, SuperYachtTimes), a yacht with (alleged) ties to Russian oligarchs and FBI investigations and an owner who has “abandoned” it in Falmouth Harbour, Antigua for more than a year. The Antigua and Barbuda government now plans to auction the superyacht.
The US Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) claims that the Oceanco yacht is owned by sanctioned Russian oligarch, Andrey Guryev. Ambassador Lionel Hurst, chief of staff to the Office of the Prime Minister, Antigua and Barbuda Government told Superyacht Investor that the ownership has not been confirmed.
However, the yacht has coincidently remained at the harbour since Russia invaded Ukraine and the owner is yet to collect it.
“Alfa Nero has been in the harbour for over a year,” said Hurst. “In situations like this, we issue a statement in the media requesting the owner to come and collect the vessel within 10 days. But the owner is yet to respond.”
The government note in the local media said: “If the owner fails to claim the vessel within that [10-day] time period, the Government of Antigua and Barbuda, having declared the vessel a hazard to shipping and to the harbour where it is moored, will sell it to the highest bidder.”
If no owner claims the vessel, the sale could net the Antigua and Barbuda government millions of dollars. According to Dennis Causier, senior superyacht specialist, VesselsValue the superyacht is worth a cool $79.5m (€75.3m).
Alfa Nero was searched in August 2022, shortly after the yacht and Guryev found themselves on sanctions lists issued by the US, EU and the UK. The former head of fertiliser producer PhosAgro, Guryev, is thought to be worth $11.4bn, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.
However, according to ambassador Hurst even after the search by Antiguan authorities, the ultimate beneficial owner remains unknown. “We don’t know who the owner is. All we know is that it is a registered company, but we can’t definitively confirm who the individual owner is. This is why the vessel has remained in the harbour for all this time,” he said.
The yacht has not moved since February 2022 and is now deemed a risk by the government. “It is still in an area where it could cause damage to the harbour and other ships,” said Hurst. “It’s not necessarily blocking the waterways now, but it is in a position where if it sinks in a storm, there would be a serious problem.”
Hurst confirmed if the vessel is sold, the Government of Antigua and Barbuda would keep the proceeds of the sale. “This is after all the creditors have been paid off. You have to remember it has received fuel and water for over a year and the owner hasn’t paid a thing.” The yacht’s exact total outstanding bill is currently undisclosed.
The ambassador added that he could not confirm the exact date of the auction, as the government might extend the length of the response period beyond the 10 days in hope that the owner comes forward to move the vessel.
“But we just want it out of the harbour,” said Hurst. “As it stands, the owner hasn’t made a claim, so we will proceed with the auction in the coming weeks.”
If there is a billionaire somewhere unsure of what their set of Oceanco keys opens, the upcoming auction might just jog their memory. Meanwhile don’t forget that Superyacht Investor London 2023 begins next week. We look forward to seeing you there.
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