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The Wild International Battle Over Seized Russian Superyachts!

In 2022, the world witnessed the drama surrounding Russian-owned superyachts in the wake of the Ukraine invasion, with many attempting to evade authorities. Alfa Nero, renowned as one of the world’s grandest superyachts, is believed to belong to Russian oligarch Andrey Guryev, who faced U.S. sanctions. Its fate is now caught in a tripartite dispute involving Guryev’s daughter, the Antigua and Barbuda administration, and ex-Google CEO Eric Schmidt.

Built in 2007 by Oceanco for Greek magnate Theodore Angelopolous, the 269-foot superyacht features luxurious amenities, including multiple cabins, a gym, office, pools, and even a helipad. It was allegedly bought by Guryev for $120 million in 2014. However, Guryev, ranked as Russia’s 25th wealthiest individual, has consistently denied ownership. In April, the $120-million vessel war seized and harbored in Falmouth Harbour, Antigua. It costs the local authorities a staggering $30,000 weekly.

The former Google CEO, Eric Schmidt, bought the Oceanco-built superyacht for $67.6 million at an auction on 16 June 2023. However, the luxury vessel, nearly two months ago, the Alfa Nero, hasn’t moved an inch from Falmouth Harbour, Antigua. Cautious lawyers advised the billionaire philanthropist to wait before transferring any money until the court controversy was ironed out.

The risk is real, considering that Yulia Guryeva-Motlokhov, the daughter of a sanctioned oligarch, Andrew Guryev, and the superyacht’s original owner on paper, fought hard to get it back and is still not giving up. She asserted her ownership, stating she is the sole beneficiary of the trust owning the Alfa Nero.

If Schmidt withdraws his bid, the next highest bidder might secure Alfa Nero. Financially, the gap between the two bids is negligible. Regardless, the yacht, valued at $115 million, is set to be sold at a significant discount. The agreed minimum sale price stands at a mere $60 million. Schmidt’s initial offer was $67.6 million, but the superyacht might now go for $66 million. The situation could deteriorate further, with the third-highest bid being a paltry $25 million, well below the minimum. If the second bidder also retracts, the Alfa Nero could be ensnared in perpetual legal entanglements.

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