Beached superyachts pile up in European shipyards

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Ultimately, authorities cannot allow the yachts to completely disintegrate as they could pose an environmental risk.

“It would be completely irresponsible not to maintain yachts. If you don’t look after a boat properly, the metals that come into contact with the water will eat away. And that will take time but eventually the boat will sink. It’s Obviously this is a huge pollution risk as they trap tons of fuel,” says Maltby.

A sanctioned oligarch, however, is unable to pay for the services needed to maintain his ships even if he wanted to.

What happens next is likely up to the court. With companies accumulating debts, suppliers could go to court to demand payment. In the world of yachting, demanding payment from a company is called an arrest – any sale may be only a fraction of a yacht’s value.

“It’s like winding up a business,” Maltby says. “If you seize a vessel because you have supplied goods to the owner who has not paid and the security has not been put in payment, you can ask the court to seize and sell the yacht. And you will benefit from the product after court costs and legal fees have all been paid.

“Typically the yacht would be sold at auction, or there would be a sealed bidding process and you would get your money back. But the yacht itself would achieve nothing comparable to its true market value.”

An auction of an oligargh’s superyacht would undoubtedly attract considerable attention.

Ocean Independence’s Huerzeler says his clients would love to attend such a high-profile event for a cut-price deal on a valuable asset, but warns any buyer is taking huge risks such as potential legal battles years later if an oligarch tries to take over their yacht.

“A lot of our customers are hoping for an auction. People are very interested in buying these yachts and they are hoping to get some good deals in the market,” he says.

“But I personally am very skeptical. There aren’t many people who can and want to buy such a huge yacht. I don’t see people popping up to buy an asset with such an extreme running cost. And they will want a proof of ownership – who will feel safe buying this yacht?”

Creditors of beached superyachts may need to find buyers willing to buy the yachts before they lose value – and fend off the likes of Sechin if they are ever to receive payment.

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