Seized £63m Russian superyacht Axioma sells at Gibraltar auction

Axioma

A £63m superyacht, once owned by sanctioned steel billionaire Dmitry Pumpyansky, has attracted 63 bids at auction in Gibraltar. The yacht has been stranded in the British Overseas Territory since March this year, when authorities arrested it.

It is the first public auction of a seized Russian asset since Putin invaded Ukraine in February.

The 72.5-metre Axioma, which has five decks, six cabins, an infinity pool, spa and 3D cinema, was designed by Alberto Pinto, and built by Dunya Yachts in Turkey in 2013.

Originally named Red Square, the yacht had been available for charter for US$558,500 (£474,000) a week.

On Tuesday (23 Aug 22), The Office of the Admiralty Marshal in Gibraltar confirmed that “63 bids have been received” for Axioma but refused to reveal the value of the bids for the yacht.

Because it was listed for one day only, reports anticipated that the yacht would likely sell for less than its estimated value.

“The successful bidder will be selected by the Admiralty Marshal, but details of the bidder and the value of the offer will remain confidential,” the court said in a statement. “Details about the sale value of the vessel will be made available once the transaction has been completed, which could take place in approximately 10 to 14 days.”

The auction of the superyacht has attracted controversy, because it was sold by Gibraltar on behalf of JP Morgan, rather than for the benefit of the Ukrainian people.

Axioma sells at auction. Shot of Axioma from above
Axioma from above. Image courtesy of Yacht Charter Fleet

The US investment bank says that Pumpyansky’s holding company Pyrene Investments owes it more than £17m from an unpaid loan. JP Morgan says it can no longer accept loan repayments from Pyrene, due to the nature of the economic sanctions on 58-year-old Pumpyansky, and asked Gibraltar to detain and sell the yacht in lieu of the loan.

There was an “unexpected late surge by prospective buyers” around the world for the vessel, Nigel Hollyer, broker to the admiralty marshal of the supreme court of Gibraltar who led the auction, told the Guardian last week.

James Jaffa, a lawyer for British firm Jaffa & Co, said the vessel was likely to sell for “way below” €20m. The broker, crew, shipyard and maintenance fees will be paid ahead of the bank.

A large number of yachts and other valuable assets owned by Russian oligarchs have been seized by world governments since the start of the war this year.

The Russian-owned superyacht Amadea had been costing the Fijian state over half a million US dollars a week to maintain, while docked at the Fijian port of Lautoka earlier this year. The yacht has now been removed from Fiji amid legal wrangling.

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3 responses to “Seized £63m Russian superyacht Axioma sells at Gibraltar auction”

  1. Jim Evans says:

    Your wording “It is the first public auction of a seized Russian asset since Putin invaded Ukraine in February” is misleading. Whilst it maybe factually accurate it carries the implication that the seizure and subsequent auction of the yacht is directly due to the Owner being sanctioned which is not the case. The yacht was auctioned (as you later explain) on behalf of JP Morgan due to unpaid loans.

  2. Leroy Gibbs says:

    borderline fraud on the part of Gibraltar and JP Morgan.

    Seizing an asset with a loan against it is one thing, but seizing it after refusing to accept payment for the loan is probably more immoral than anything the former owner had done.

    Sets a precedent meaning no asset with a loan against it, is secure.

  3. JeromyVM says:

    Not quite accurate Leroy. JP Morgan were unable to accept payment as payment could not be made due to the Russian Bank Embargo and removal from the SWIFT transfer system. They did not ‘refuse payment’ Facts please!