Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, many superyachts belonging to sanctioned Russian oligarchs has been seized. The US was the first to take complete ownership of one when it sailed Amadea to San Diego flying a US flag.
These seized vessels are now going through the process of being liquidated, and the first up on the auction block is the 240-foot Axioma superyacht belonging to Dmitry Pumpyansky.
The Axioma will have the honor of being the first seized Russian superyacht to be auctioned off following an order from the Gibraltar supreme court.
In most cases, authorities cannot sell a seized superyacht without going through a years long legal process. This saddles the country with running and maintenance costs that can amount to between 10% to 15% of the vessel’s value per year. For example, the US has already spent $400,000 in fuel just to sail Amadea from Fiji to the United States. So how did Axioma came up for auction so fast? You can thank investment bank JPMorgan.
JPMorgan was involved in the seizure of Axioma after Pumpyansky was added to the sanctions list. US banks are not allowed to do business with anyone sanctioned by the United States.
Although the $75 million superyacht is owned by the Pumpyansky, it is run by a management company called Pyrene Investments. JPMorgan had lent $22 million to Pyrene Investments and Pumpyansky’s inclusion on the sanctions list meant the loan agreement was breached.
Being on the sanctions list means Pumpyansky’s bank accounts outside of Russia were frozen so he can’t make payments on the loan. He can’t wire money from Russia either because his Russian bank was cut off from SWIFT. Even if he could wire the money, the payment would be frozen the instant it lands. Even if he bought a suitcase full of cash, JPMorgan can’t accept it.
Since Pumpyansky beached the loan agreement, JPMorgan felt the best way to get their money back was to seize the boat, so this is more of a bank repo than a government action against a sanctioned individual. Before you think it was smart that JPMorgan added a sanctions clause into the loan agreement, it’s standard for all loans. Check the fine print in your car loan or mortgage and you’ll see it.
It is highly unlikely that Axioma will go for her $75 million market value. JPMorgan is just hoping to get their $22 million back, and the bidding shouldn’t have any problems reaching that level. Right now, the main concern is screening the bidders because it’s possible that Pumpyansky himself may be making a bid to get his boat back via a shell company.
Axioma was built in 2013 by Dunya Yachts. Originally known as project Red Square, her luxurious interior is designed by the renowned Alberto Pinto while Sterling Scott is responsible for her exterior styling.
Her top speed is 18 knots and she has a maximum range of 5000 nautical miles when navigating at cruising speed, with power coming from two Caterpillar diesel engines. She can accommodate up to 12 guests in 6 staterooms, and is serviced by crew of 20. Before she was seized, she was available for charter at $475,000 a week.