For the first time, a Russian superyacht seized under war-related sanctions will be auctioned.
A superyacht owned by a sanctioned Russian businessman is set to be publicly auctioned off on Tuesday, the first such sale since governments around the world began seizing Russian-owned luxury vessels in the wake of President Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.
The superyacht, the Malta-flagged Axioma, was seized by British authorities in Gibraltar in March after the U.S. investment bank JP Morgan said that the ship’s owner, Dmitrievich Pumpyansky, a billionaire Russian steel pipe magnate, owed it more than $20 million in loan repayments.
Before being sanctioned in March, Mr. Pumpyansky owned and chaired Russia’s largest steel pipe producer, TMK PJSC. Britain said that Mr. Pumpyansky was one of the oligarchs “closest to Putin,” and had amassed a fortune estimated at more than $2 billion.
The bank said that the money it was owed by Pyrene Investments, Mr. Pumpyansky’s holding company, could no longer be legally accepted after he was sanctioned by the United States, Britain and European Union. The bank won a court order in Gibraltar in July to have the vessel seized and auctioned off to repay the loan.
The Axioma has five decks and is 240 feet long. It is outfitted with six luxurious bedrooms, an infinity pool, a 3-D cinema, a gym, a jacuzzi and a spa. Nigel Hollyer, the broker at the auction house handling the vessel’s sale, Howe Robinson Partners, would not disclose the yacht’s appraised value, but said it was expected to sell “comfortably in advance” of that figure.
The BBC previously reported an appraisal value of £63 million, or about $75 million for the vessel, though it did not disclose how the figure was obtained.
Mr. Hollyer said he had seen a “staggering amount” of interest in the vessel in recent weeks, including 100 inquiries and 30 in-person inspections. He said that there had been two “serious” offers already, and that most offers were expected on Tuesday. Prospective buyers hailed from countries including the United States, Canada, Britain, Italy, and Turkey, according to Mr. Hollyer.
The vessel, originally named Red Square when it was built in 2013, was once available for charter for as much as $635,250 a week, plus expenses. Many of those who previously rented the superyacht were U.S. citizens, Mr. Hollyer said.
JP Morgan refused to comment on the Axioma when approached by The New York Times, declining to say whether the bank intended to donate any of the proceeds to help Ukrainian refugees. In recent months, some governments — including Britain, which governs Gibraltar as an overseas territory — have said that proceeds from the sale of seized Russian assets could be used to aid Ukraine.
A spokesman for Gibraltar Courts Service said that what happened to any surplus from the sale, once the loan was repaid, was a matter “to be determined by the court.”