The Russian superyacht Alfa Nero, once a symbol of luxury and opulence, now sits abandoned in Falmouth Harbour, Antigua. The vessel, valued at $120 million, has been left idle since early March 2022 due to the fallout from Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine and the subsequent sanctions imposed on Russian billionaires. The yacht’s purported owner, fertilizer billionaire Andrey Guryev, denies ownership, and the true owner remains elusive due to the complex methods used by the ultra-rich to conceal their assets.
With no passengers coming aboard, the skeleton crew of Alfa Nero has taken over the master suite, leaving the rest of the lavish amenities unused. The crew, facing financial difficulties, seeks back pay, while the costs of maintaining the yacht continue to mount. The Antiguan government formally seized the vessel in April, and they have posted security guards on the dock to ensure its security. However, the authorities now face the challenge of auctioning off the yacht to recover the mounting expenses.
Antigua has appealed to the United States to lift the sanctions on Alfa Nero, as the designation of the yacht as a “blocked” property hinders the possibility of a successful auction. The fear is that the proceeds from the sale could be frozen as banks comply with legal obligations. The Antiguan government has offered to share the identities of potential bidders with the US to ensure compliance with Treasury rules, but Treasury officials have yet to comment on the matter.
As the Alfa Nero remains anchored in the Antigua Yacht Club Marina, the remaining crew diligently maintains the vessel, even with the reduced workforce. They face the constant threat of saltwater damage and the need to burn diesel to keep the yacht powered. With hurricane season approaching, the concern grows, as other yachts begin to leave the area for safety. In the face of these challenges, the marina seeks payment for the expenses incurred while harboring the abandoned superyacht.
The fate of Alfa Nero hangs in the balance as the crew awaits resolution and seeks to recover their unpaid wages. The yacht serves as a striking example of the exorbitant costs associated with maintaining a superyacht, even in a state of abandonment.