As government of Gibraltar auctions a seized £65 million oligarch superyacht with interiors by Jeffrey Epstein’s favourite designer to ‘bargain seekers,’ Matthew Steeples asks: “Why haven’t other seized ‘questionable assets’ been sold off already?”
On Tuesday in Gibraltar, the first sale of a superyacht seized from a Russian oligarch is likely to be hammered down when the government there flogs it at auction after it was detained when it docked there in March this year. It is estimated to be worth circa £65 million ($76.9 million, €76.6 million or درهم282.4 million), but may well sell for much less.
Unused and no doubt unloved as a result of it having been impounded for five months, the 236-foot long Axioma (which was originally named ‘Red Square’) was built for President Vladimir Putin’s billionaire mate Dmitry Pumpyansky in 2013 by Dunya Yachts and is being offered by Howe Robinson Partners online in a sale that concludes at 12 noon Gibraltar time (GMT+2) on 23rd August.
Of the gin palace, whilst Dunya Yachts laud it as “universally acclaimed” and “widely acknowledged as the finest yacht to ever come out of Turkey,” others mock it is as “Jeffrey Epstein naff” given its interiors were originally designed by the since croaked paedophile’s favourite designer’s Alberto Pinto (1943 – 2012) eponymous firm.
Having echoes of bad taste that would undoubtedly appeal to Epstein’s big bottomed boat loving mate Lord Mandelson – a chap known for bringing together George Osborne, Nat Rothschild and Oleg Deripaska on a £127 million ($150 million, €149 million or درهم551 million) 238-foot long tub off Corfu in August 2008 – also, Axioma sleeps upto 12 in 6 cabins with a crew of upto 20 individuals. It has been described by ‘Alex The Yacht Guy’ on his YouTube channel as “one of the most chartered yachts in the industry” and has been priced out from around £75,000 per night ($88,700, €88,400 or درهم326,000 per night) upwards.
Decorated to have a “beach house-style interior” according to the text of an undated marketing brochure for it prior to the exterior being part repainted in a curious-to-garish shade of baby blue, the 5 deck vessel also has a gallery, a main salon, a 14 seat dining room with Versace china and glassware, an 8 person 3D cinema, an infinity swimming pool, an alfresco dining area for upto 16, a Jacuzzi with a bar, open air and indoor gyms, a massage room, a steam room and a sun deck.
Accompanying also is a ‘chase boat and limousine tender’ capable of 40 knots, two further tenders and water toys including kayaks, wakeboards, 2 Sea-Doos and a Yamaha WaveRunner.
Offering caution about the condition of the vessel, Howe Robinson Partners state of Axioma in their marketing material: “[This is marketing material] a general overview and without guarantee and is left to buyers to form their own impression during inspection.”
Curiously, as reported this morning by The Guardian’s Rupert Neate, proceeds from the sale will benefit JP Morgan rather than the people of Ukraine as the US investment bank is owed £17 million ($20.1 million, €20 million or درهم73.9 million) by Pumpyansky – a billionaire whose worth has previously been estimated as high as £1.84 billion ($2.18 billion, €2.17 billion or درهم8 billion).
Of this situation, Super Yacht Times noted in July:
“Pumpyansky [is] a shareholder of Pyrene Investments… [They] took a loan with JP Morgan Chase & Co… [but] Pumpyansky’s involvement with Pyrene Investments breaches the loan agreement. Pyrene Investments is owned by Furdberg Holding of Cyprus and, at the time of the loan agreement, Pumpyansky was the sole shareholder.”
“As Pumpyansky was on the sanction list his assets were frozen and it was illegal for the bank to accept any repayments from him. With his superyacht Axioma seized in Gibraltar, JPMorgan Chase & Co. pursued an opportunity to see a return on their investment.”
Of interest in the sale, Nigel Hollyer, the broker to the Admirality Marshal of the Supreme Court of Gibraltar, told The Guardian that “more than 30 people had flown to inspect the yacht in person.” He added:
“[There has been an] unexpected late surge by prospective buyers. They are people from across the world. They are people who own or have owned boats of similar size, and have been attracted to this boat because of the judicial sale process – they are convinced they’re going to get a bargain.”
To date, Axioma has counted Formula 1 driver Lewis Hamilton and Kim Kardashian’s half-sister Kendall Jenner as noted names who have spent time onboard. Who’ll be next is unknown, but one thing’s for sure – it most certainly is as unlikely to be Putin’s apologist Bernie Ecclestone – who faces his first court hearing in London on Monday coming over an alleged £400 million ($473 million, €471 million or درهم1.7 billion) fraud – as any other rotten Russian oligarch.
Today, given the noted previous enthusiasm of the likes of likely next Prime Minister Liz Truss for grabbing the ill-gotten gains of Russian oligarchs, isn’t it now time that some more of the seized boats and buildings in London, Lake Como and beyond belonging to these people were put up for sale? Equally, isn’t it time that some money from such sales was actually used to help those in need in Ukraine also?
Pictured top – Dmitry Pumpyansky being awarded the 4th Degree Order ‘For Merit to the Fatherland’ on 31st July 2014 by President Vladimir Putin (left) and the Axioma superyacht formerly owned by the former in auction marketing material in August 2022.