Abandoned Superyacht Sale Blocked By Last Minute Bid From Oligarch Owner

Even the grandest voyages encounter unexpected detours.

Abandoned Superyacht Sale Blocked By Last Minute Bid From Oligarch Owner

Image: BOAT International

The highly anticipated sale of the magnificent 82-meter Oceano superyacht Alfa Nero has hit a snag due to unforeseen legal complications, following a captivating live broadcast on the Antigua and Barbuda government’s state-owned television network…

The seemingly never-ending Alfa Nero saga seems set to roll on a little longer, mere days after it was due to come to an already long-overdue end following the announcement of its $98 million AUD sale to a tech CEO last week. The vessel, which was abandoned in Antigua at the beginning of the Russia-Ukraine conflict, potentially because of ties between its former owner and the embroiled Russian state — was finally set to leave the Caribbean island where it’s been gathering extremely expensive dust for several months.

That was, however, until an unexpected legal challenge came into play over the weekend. After a thrilling auction, broadcast on Antigua and Barbuda’s state-owned television network — why was the sale of such significance as to garner a television broadcast? Because the price was large enough to boost the entire nation’s GDP is why — was successfully concluded last week, it seemed the superyacht’s turbulent tale had come to an end.

However, the sale has now been temporarily halted because the vessel’s ownership is being contested by a number of unexpected parties. Before we get into that, let’s recap all the twists and turns of Alfa Nero’s fascinating story…

WATCH: Here’s how a luxury superyacht stows its luxury toys…

Ever since the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, Alfa Nero had been ordered to remain in Antigua and Barbuda, resulting in a prolonged period of apparent abandonment. The superyacht was denied refuelling privileges and was only permitted to take on emergency supplies to maintain its security and that of Falmouth Harbour. However, last week’s auction seemed to offer a long-awaited glimmer of hope for Alfa Nero’s future…

Eric Schmidt, former Google CEO and all-around Silicon Valley bigwig, emerged as the apparent winner of the auction, having secured Alfa Nero with a staggering bid of $98 million AUD (~$67.6 million USD). However, Schmidt’s legal team suddenly advised him to delay payment until the resolution of the first court controversy, caused by an unanticipated spanner in the works from Yulia Guryeva-Motlokhov, daughter of Russian oligarch Andrey Guryev.

Guryev is the purported (though never officially confirmed) previous owner of the yacht, who is said to have abandoned the yacht after the invasion of Ukraine made it financially and politically expedient of him to do so. His daughter seemed to implicitly file the injunction on his behalf, asserting the family’s historic ownership rights over the vessel and, in doing so, voiding the sale to Schmidt.

Friends in high places: Andrey Guryev (left), the long-suspected owner of the yacht, with close pal Putin. Image: Insider

Fortunately for Schmidt, a High Court judge rejected Guryeva-Motlokhov’s claim, clearing the path for the sale to proceed.

Then — you guessed it — another last-minute attempt to block the sale was made by British Virgin Islands-based firm Flying Dutchman, which also asserted ownership rights over Alfa Nero. However, the Court of Appeal once again denied their emergency injunction application, further bolstering Schmidt’s chances of securing the coveted superyacht.

Now, however, the government has decided to step in. Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda Gaston Browne recently had a discussion with Schmidt during a cabinet meeting, where Schmidt revealed that he had received advice from lawyers associated with the Antigua Port Authority, who suggested that waiting for a final decision regarding ownership rights — or, at least, for the many ownership contestations to shrivel up and go away — before proceeding with the payment may be the most prudent next step.

Bond-villain vibes: the Alfa Nero’s rear pool transforms into a helipad on command. Image: BOAT International

While the government eagerly awaits the resolution of the legal matter — most likely because they have been responsible for forking out the required $28,000-a-week upkeep of the yacht during its unexpectedly lengthy say on the island — these seemingly never-ending legal challenges have added an additional layer of complexity to an already intricate battle over the yacht which, in case you were wondering, has accommodation for up to twelve guests across six luxurious suites and is equipped with a hydraulically operated pool and helipad on its aft deck.

While we once again find ourselves waiting for a final verdict on the Alfa Nero’s next destination, this labyrinthine legal case once again proves that even the grandest voyages can encounter unexpected detours.