Following the Alfa Nero auction in Antigua on June 16, the country’s government officials have revealed that the new owner is a high-profile American.
Specifically, Sir Ronald Sanders, Antigua’s ambassador to the United States, tells Bloomberg that the owner is Eric Schmidt, a venture capitalist and philanthropist. The Antigua Observer newspaper also mentions Schmidt, without specifying who announced his name.
A spokesperson for Schmidt’s foundation declined our request for a comment. Sanders did not respond to our request for comment, either.
Regardless, according to details released by the government, the winning Alfa Nero auction bid was $67.6 million. Notably, just two other bidders came forward, one of whom bid $66 million. The final bid of $25 million was far short of the minimum $60 million that Antiguan authorities wanted.
The Alfa Nero auction should conclude a checkered series of events that unfolded over the past year. The 269-footer (82-meter) arrived in Antigua in early 2022, and remained put until the government declared the superyacht abandoned in March of this year. Alfa Nero hadn’t left port since her arrival, and showed signs of neglect. Furthermore, many of her crewmembers had departed prior to March, due to unpaid wages. Neither had local suppliers received payment for services rendered, including fuel to keep her gensets operational.
According to the U.S. Treasury Department, Alfa Nero was under the ownership of Andrey Guryev. Guryev is a former Russian government official and reported close associate of current Russian president Vladimir Putin. The United States placed him and the yacht each under sanctions in August 2022, though it lifted the yacht’s sanctions last month. The lifting took place just after Antiguan officials declared an “unfettered sale” of Alfa Nero would take place.
Interestingly, the Alfa Nero auction did attract a last-minute injunction to prevent the sale. Darwin Telemaque, Antigua’s port manager, informs Bloomberg that Guryev’s daughter filed the injunction, claiming she was the owner. However, a judge dismissed it, paving the way for the auction to conclude.
“We are pleased that we now have an owner, and the owner is now tasked with taking on all of the responsibilities to get the vessel ready and moving and, hopefully, they can do it quick enough,” Telemaque tells the Antigua Observer. He adds that Antigua would welcome the yacht back “with a full crew, fully operational, engaging the local community.”