Russian billionaire’s super yacht sold in ‘blind auction’

A $US75 million ($A109 million) superyacht linked to a sanctioned Russian steel billionaire has been auctioned in Gibraltar in what is understood to be the first sale of its kind since Russia invaded Ukraine in February.

Aug 24, 2022, updated Aug 24, 2022
The 75m Axioma, formerly owned by a Russian oligarch, has been sold at auction. (Image: Boat international).

The 75m Axioma, formerly owned by a Russian oligarch, has been sold at auction. (Image: Boat international).

The Axioma was impounded by the Gibraltar authorities in March after US bank JP Morgan said its alleged owner Dmitry Pumpyansky had reneged on the terms of a $US20 million loan.

The 72.5-metre vessel was auctioned by the Gibraltar Admiralty Court through a system of closed bids to be sent electronically by midday on Tuesday local time, a court spokesman said.

The court added that 63 bids had been submitted for consideration, with the selection process expected to take 10 to 14 days.

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 newspaper last week.

The boat sleeps 12 people in six cabins and boasts a swimming pool, a spa, 3D cinema and water sports equipment.

According to court papers reviewed by Reuters, JP Morgan lent 20.5 million euros ($A29.6 million) to British Virgin Islands-listed Pyrene Investments, which was owned by Furdberg Holding. Furdberg’s owner was Pumpyansky, who acted as guarantor for the loan.

The papers said Pyrene Investments defaulted on the loan terms after Pumpyansky on March 4 transferred his shares in Furdberg to a third party and was then sanctioned, blocking the repayment of the loan.

The 58-year-old, who has an estimated fortune of $US2 billion according to Forbes magazine, was sanctioned by Britain and the European Union shortly after the invasion of Ukraine.

Pumpyansky was until March the owner and chairman of steel pipe manufacturer OAO TMK, a supplier to Russian energy company Gazprom. The company said he had since withdrawn from the firm.

The Axioma is the first seized luxury yacht known to be auctioned since the West imposed sanctions on powerful Russians following the February invasion of Ukraine.

Sources close to the process told Reuters JP Morgan would only claim the 20.5 million euros owed and that any further proceeds from the sale would be up to the court to disburse.

Scores of yachts and houses linked to Russian oligarchs have been seized by world governments since the invasion. British and American authorities have said they would seek to send the proceeds of sold assets to Ukraine.

A Gibraltar government source said the money would probably be frozen rather than handed to anyone other than the oligarch.

A spokesman for JP Morgan declined to comment.

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