By Jim Wyss and Devon Pendleton | Bloomberg
Former Google CEO Eric Schmidt has backed out of purchasing a superyacht that’s been abandoned in Antigua for over a year, after the sale became mired in lawsuits.
Schmidt withdrew his $67.6 million winning bid for the Alfa Nero several days ago, said Ronald Sanders, Antigua and Barbuda’s ambassador to the US. In June, Schmidt won an auction for the luxury vessel, but the deal was later challenged in court by the daughter of Russian fertilizer billionaire Andrey Guryev.
“Schmidt, because of the legal wrangling, determined that we could not give him clear title of the ship,” Sanders said in a Friday interview. “That’s not accurate, because the ship belongs to us, it is owned by the government.”
People close to Schmidt who asked not to be identified discussing the sale said any property subject to litigation isn’t free and clear.
The 267-foot Alfa Nero, complete with a baby grand piano and a swimming pool that turns into a helipad, was abandoned in Antigua’s Falmouth Harbour in March 2022, after the US Treasury sanctioned Guryev. While he denied he owned the superyacht, his daughter, Yulia Gurieva-Motlokhov, later stepped forward to claim it.
After the US lifted sanctions on the vessel, Antigua’s government auctioned it off despite Gurieva-Motlokhov’s attempts to block the sale. Since then, her lawyers have appealed to courts in Antigua hoping to void the transaction.
Sanders said Warren E. Halle, a developer from Maryland, was the runner-up on the Alfa Nero auction. Halle didn’t respond to multiple requests for comment.
Schmidt, who served as Google’s chief executive for about a decade, has an estimated net worth of $27 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. He’s collected about $4 billion from the sale of Alphabet stock over the years, which has helped fund his investments in AI startups.
–With assistance from Anna Edgerton and Anna Jean Kaiser.
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