Former Google CEO buys abandoned superyacht for $67.6m

Alfa Nero

Former Google CEO Eric Schmidt has reportedly purchased the superyacht Alfa Nero, which was ditched in Antigua after the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The 81.3-metre Oceanco vessel was moored at Antigua Yacht Club Marina in February 2022. The vessel was blocked from leaving pending a search to confirm whether its ultimate owner appeared on sanction lists following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Several outlets, including Forbes, report that Alfa Nero is owned by sanctioned Russian businessman and Putin associate Andrey Guryev.

The government says the search for the true owner has proved unsuccessful, and the vessel — which has not been maintained since it was left behind — was therefore posing a hazard to other ships and to the harbour, prompting the government to organise a sale of the vessel to the highest bidder.

David Gantly, a commentator on Twitter, noted: “Eric Schmidt has bought MY Alfa Nero, seized from a sanctioned Russian, in Antigua last year. Brave man? I’d be fairly paranoid if I was floating around on a boat that was seized from a pal of Putin’s. Would they ever let that go? For his sake, let’s hope so.”

It’s estimated that the final sale price of $67.6m represents a relative 50 per cent discount on the vessel’s value. Delivered in 2007 by Oceanco, Alfa Nero was sold in 2011 to its current owner with an asking price of $115m. The yacht won the best interior and exterior styling awards at the World Superyacht Awards in 2008.

The auction, which began at 10am on Friday (16 June 2023) was threatened to be scuppered by a last-minute attempt by the former owners to tie up the sale in the courts.

However, the application for an emergency injunction application was rejected by the court, as reported by the Antigua Observer.

The government set a minimum sale price of US$60 million, which only two of the three bids validly submitted exceeded.

Antigua and Barbuda Port manager Darwin Telemaque tells the Antigua Observer that the other two bids in the auction were US$66 million and US$25 million. Money received from the sale is expected to remain in the Antiguan government’s hands, but the US could make a future request for access to the funds

The 68-year-old Schmidt is said to be worth US$20.5 billion. As well as his role at Google, he is known as the co-founder of venture capital firm Innovation Endeavors, which has invested in firms including Uber and SoFi.

Telemaque also thanked the Antigua Yacht Club and its proprietor Carlo Falcone for their support while the boat could not be serviced.

“Had he not fuelled the ship for as long as he did, no one else would have, and the reason why that vessel is in the pristine condition that it was in was because he sustained it and…that was a bullet that we dodged,” Telemaque says.

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