81m superyacht Alfa Nero to be auctioned in Antigua

Former Google CEO Eric Schmidt backs out of $67M Alfa Nero purchase

12 September 2023 • Written by Holly Overton

The completion of the sale of abandoned superyacht Alfa Nero has reached another roadblock as former Google CEO Eric Schmidt is reported to have backed out of the deal amid "legal wrangling".

The 81.3-metre Alfa Nero was sold at auction on 16 June for $67,000,677 having been declared abandoned by the government of Antigua and Barbuda, but has been wrapped up in litigation ever since. Ahead of the auction, the Eastern Caribbean Court of Appeal rejected a last-minute application by Flying Dutchman Overseas Limited (understood to be the registered owner of the vessel) to block the sale. 

The government is now on the receiving end of two more legal challenges: one filed by a secondary party claiming ownership, and another filed by runner-up bidder Warren Halle, who claims that the government were in breach of an agreement to sell the vessel prior to the auction.

Antigua and Barbuda's Ambassador to the United States, Ronald Sanders told Bloomberg: “Schmidt, because of the legal wrangling, determined that we could not give him clear title of the ship. That’s not accurate, because the ship belongs to us, it is owned by the government.”

The delay in the sale of Alfa Nero is the latest chapter in a long saga that began in February 2022, when the vessel was blocked from leaving the port of Antigua subject to an official search to determine whether the ultimate beneficiary owner had been named on international sanctions lists following Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

According to the government, the vessel received more than $500,000 worth of fuel during her stay in Antigua. Funds from the sale will be used to pay the yacht's captain and crew as well as other creditors that have been providing fuel and supplies.

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