The 95-metre (312-foot) superyacht, built in 2000 by Oceanco, was due to undergo a second public auction on 19th September, but an 11th-hour bid from Sea Beauty Yachting Limited was accepted and Barclays, the mortgagee, is now appealing to the Maltese Courts to allow the private sale.
Indian Empress was originally ordered for sale by the Civil Court (first hall) of Malta in May, on the application of Melita Power Diesel. The Oceanco superyacht was sold at auction in June for €45.3 million, some €35 million below her most recent €80 million valuation (dated March).
Over €10 million has now been knocked off the original winning bid in the private sale, should it be accepted. This is in part because a number of items, including a piano believed to once belong to Sir Elton John and a number of valuable artworks, were removed from the yacht.
The case has been adjourned until 25th September, and the courts will then rule on whether the private sale can be granted. If it is granted, previous winning bidder Crediyacht, which was representing an Iranian buyer and prohibited from participating in the new auction, will be ordered to pay the difference in the sale price.
Previous owner Vijay Vittal Mallya, a business magnate, former politician and ex-Formula One boss, was arrested in London in October 2017 at the request of the Indian government, which requested his extradition to stand trial over an alleged debt of more than ₹ 90 billion (Indian rupees; approximately €1.13 billion).
Indian Empress was left abandoned after Mallya’s arrest, leaving the 40-plus-strong crew aboard the superyacht with months of unpaid wages totalling in excess of €860,000. Maritime workers union Nautilus International has confirmed it is hoping to use the funds raised from the sale of the vessel to pay the outstanding wages.