News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Tues. Sept. 26, 2023: In a surprising turn of events, Eric Schmidt, the former Google CEO, has backed out of his intended purchase of the Alfa Nero, a $120 million mega-yacht seized by the Antigua and Barbuda government. This unexpected development has left the small Caribbean nation grappling with a substantial $28,000 weekly maintenance bill for the idle vessel, as reported by The Wall Street Journal.
The Alfa Nero, which had been anchored in Antigua’s Falmouth Harbor since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in August 2022, was linked by the US Treasury Department to Andrey Guryev, a Russian oligarch known to have close ties to Vladimir Putin. Despite winning the yacht auction in June for $67.6 million, Schmidt’s change of heart came after a legal action, filed by a company connected to Guryev’s daughter, thwarted the sale.
The superyacht Alfa Nero docked in Falmouth Harbour in Saint Paul Parish, Antigua, on Wednesday, April 20, 2023. It’s been more than a year since the Russian superyacht Alfa Nero all 267 feet and 2,500 gross tons of it was abandoned in Falmouth Harbour, Antigua. Photographer: Bing Guan/Bloomberg via Getty Images
As a result, the megayacht, renowned for its opulence and amenities, including an infinity pool that doubles as a dancefloor, has remained stationed in Falmouth Harbor for over 19 months. The financial burden of maintaining the vessel has now fallen upon the shoulders of Antigua and Barbuda’s taxpayers, who are footing the $28,000-a-week bill. These expenses cover various costs, such as the salary of an Italian captain and a daily diesel bill of $2,000 to keep the vessel’s air conditioning operational. The constant cooling is necessary to prevent mold from damaging the yacht’s hardwood interior and priceless artwork, including a Joan Miró painting.
The unexpected outcome has posed a significant challenge to the Caribbean nation, which is home to just 93,000 residents. While the Antigua and Barbuda government initially sought to auction the Alfa Nero due to concerns about its inadequate maintenance, Eric Schmidt’s withdrawal from the deal has created an ongoing financial burden that the nation now faces.