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A multimillion-dollar superyacht once owned by a Russian oligarch has gone to auction

The Axioma superyacht, seen in Gibraltar in March, once belonged to Russian oligarch Dmitrievich Pumpyansky. The vessel was seized last March in accordance with sanctions imposed by Britain and the European Union. It will be auctioned off Tuesday, with the proceeds going to JP Morgan Chase.
JON NAZCA
/
REUTERS
The Axioma superyacht, seen in Gibraltar in March, once belonged to Russian oligarch Dmitrievich Pumpyansky. The vessel was seized last March in accordance with sanctions imposed by Britain and the European Union. It will be auctioned off Tuesday, with the proceeds going to JP Morgan Chase.

A superyacht once belonging to a Russian billionaire went to auction Tuesday in the British territory of Gibraltar. The vessel, estimated to have a value in the tens of millions of dollars, was seized in March as part of Western sanctions against Russia following the invasion of Ukraine.

Gibraltar's Admiralty Marshal was tasked with appraising and selling the yacht, which received 63 bids, according to court documents. Its official appraised value is "a confidential matter which cannot be disclosed," although outside estimates reportedly place it anywhere from $42 million to $75 million. Details about who ultimately purchases the vessel and for what price will be made public when the transaction is complete.

Measuring 236 feet long and weighing over 1,600 tons, the Axioma is a sight to behold. It can accommodate 12 guests in six cabins — along with a 20-person crew in 12 other rooms — and features a gymnasium, full-service spa, infinity pool and luxury cinema, as stated on the Howe Robinson Partners auction site.

The cost to charter the Axioma for a week runs an average of roughly $500,000, not including other operating costs, according to Yacht Charter Fleet.

The former owner of the ship is Dmitrievich Pumpyansky, once Russia's largest steel pipe manufacturer and currently worth $2 billion, according to Forbes. Unfortunately for Pumpyansky, he was sanctioned by Britain and the European Union after the invasion.

Other superyachts owned by Russian oligarchs have been detained as a result of the sanctions, but the Axioma is the first to be sold off, the Guardian reported.

Despite calls for the proceeds of the sale to benefit Ukraine, the funds will instead be paid to JP Morgan Chase. According to the Guardian, the international bank had a loan agreement with Pumpyansky's holding company, Pyrene Investments.

However, the sanctions against Russia prevented JP Morgan Chase from accepting payments from the holding company, breaching the agreement, and the bank filed a legal claim to have the vessel seized and sold at auction.

Other superyachts belonging to Russian elites have been detained all over the world including the Amadea, which was seized in Fiji at the request of the United States in May. That $300 million yacht belonged to Suleiman Kerimov, a Russian gold producer worth over $12 billion, according to Forbes.

The fate of the Amadea is uncertain, however; it, too, could be sold to the highest bidder, which would be in line with President Biden's aims to hold Russian oligarchs accountable for their role in the invasion and, potentially, use the proceeds to aid Ukraine.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Dustin Jones is a reporter for NPR's digital news desk. He mainly covers breaking news, but enjoys working on long-form narrative pieces.

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