Seized superyacht auctioned off in Gibraltar after Russian billionaire owner sanctioned by Ukraine

A superyacht linked to a sanctioned Russian steel billionaire and worth an estimated $75 million ($108 million) has been auctioned off in Gibraltar, in what is believed to be the first such sale since Russia invaded Ukraine. in February.

The Axiom was seized by Gibraltar authorities in March after US bank JP Morgan said its suspected owner, Dmitry Pumpyansky, had defaulted on a $20 million loan.

The 72.5-meter ship was auctioned by the Gibraltar Admiralty Court through a system of closed bids to be submitted electronically before noon on Tuesday, a court spokesman said.

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

The buyer and the sale price were to be published after the sale was completed.

close-up image of a superyacht moored off the coast of Gibraltar
The sale of Dmitrievich Pumpyansky’s superyacht could be seen as a “benchmark” for banks seeking to recoup losses from sanctioned Russian oligarchs.(Reuters: Jon Nazca)

There was an “unexpected late surge in potential buyers” around the world for the ship, Nigel Hollyer, Admiralty broker at the Gibraltar High Court who led the auction, told The Guardian newspaper last week.

The ship has capacity for 12 people in six cabins and has a swimming pool, spa, 3D cinema and equipment for water sports.

According to court documents reviewed by Reuters, JP Morgan lent €20.5 million to Pyrene Investments, which is listed in the British Virgin Islands and was owned by Furdberg Holding.

Furdberg’s owner was Pumpyansky, who acted as guarantor of the loan.

Newspapers said Pyrene Investments breached the terms of the loan after Pumpyansky transferred his shares in Furdberg to a third party on March 4 and was later sanctioned, blocking payment of the loan.

The 58-year-old, who has an estimated fortune of $2 billion according to Forbes magazine, was sanctioned by Britain and the European Union shortly after the Ukraine invasion.

Until March, Pumpyansky was the owner and chairman of steel pipe maker OAO TMK, a supplier to the Russian energy company Gazprom.

Mega yacht moored in the port, with a small fishing boat alongside.
The 118-meter Motor Yacht A belonging to Russian oligarch Andrey Melnichenko is one of the largest yachts in the world.(AP: Kamran Jebreili)

The company said it had since withdrawn from the firm.

The Axiom is the first seized luxury yacht to come up for auction since the West imposed sanctions on the powerful Russians following its invasion of Ukraine in February.


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

Dozens of yachts and houses linked to Russian oligarchs have been seized by world governments since the invasion.

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