BY George C. Upper III, The Western JournalJune 19, 2023
1 year ago
 | June 19, 2023
1 year ago

Abandoned Superyacht Goes to Former Google Executive, Process Called 'Fully Transparent'

A former Google executive who campaigned for Barack Obama during the 2008 presidential election has purchased an abandoned superyacht in Antigua and Barbuda that had previously been owned and apparently deserted by a now-sanctioned Russian oligarch.

Andrey Guryev, who has been sanctioned in 2022 and 2023 by the United Kingdom, European Union, Japan and New Zealand in relation to Russia's invasion of Ukraine, has denied owning the 276-foot Alfa Nero, which as apparently been left sitting off the southern coast of Antigua since March, 2022.

In addition to an on-board helipad, the yacht reportedly features a 40-foot infinity pool, spa, and Jacuzzi.

Attempts to block the auction of the vessel in court failed, although the High Court of the West Indies island nation did allow a judicial review of the ownership of the yacht.

Former Google executive Eric Schmidt, who has an estimated net worth in the $25 billion range according to Bloomberg, won the auction with a bid of $67.6 million (U.S.), according to Financial Review.

Schmidt “won the auction this morning in a fully transparent process,” Sir Ronald Sanders, Antigua's ambassador to the U.S., said in a statement cited by Superyacht News.

Schmidt listed a New York address when he purchased the yacht, but was reportedly working in 2020 to become a citizen of Cyprus.

Loop News, which bills itself as the "the Caribbean’s number one news app in the Google Play store and Apple App store," said that two ownership claims had risen only in the day prior to Friday's auction.

“It is passing strange you would not say that for over a year and months nobody came forward, but just two days prior to the sale everybody is coming out of the woodwork,” the attorney general of the island nation, Steadroy Benjamin, told Loop News.

“I am not too bothered by that because I do not think the application has any merit at all and I cannot see why that should in any way [prevent] the sale," he added. "We are proceeding as normal and I am sure that the sale will take place as planned.”

Andrew O’Kola, an attorney representing one or more of the other parties claiming ownership interest in the yacht, disputed that claim, however.

"To be clear, however, whether the auction goes ahead [Friday] or not, anyone intending to bid for the yacht needs to know that the government’s argument that it has the legal power to transfer ownership of the yacht to a purchaser is still the subject of an ongoing challenge in the courts,” O'Kola said in a letter addressed to the media and cited by Loop News.

Last month, the U.S. Treasury Department granted a license to the government of Antigua and Barbuda to auction the Alfa Nero.

Schmidt now has a week to complete the transaction and take possession of the vessel, multiple outlets reported.

"We do have a hurricane season in existence now and as such it is quite important that the vessel be removed from where it is at and on its way," Port Authority manager Darwin Telemacque told reporters following the sale, according to Loop News.

"We do have a vessel that poses some threat," he added. "That vessel is 259 tonnes, it is not a small ship, it drags well over eight meters (and) that means it cannot go many places within our circle around Antigua."

"He now owns it and he has the means to move it so let's hope it gets going,” Telemacque said, saying that getting the ship crewed and safely operated as the storm season heats up was "the ultimate intent."

This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

Written by: George C. Upper III, The Western Journal



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