The luxury megayacht Axioma will have a new owner. / REUTERS

Repossessed Russian-owned megayacht goes under the hammer in Gibraltar

Sealed bids have reportedly been coming in for the Axioma, which is valued at £65 million, but the result will not be known for a few days

DEBBIE BARTLETT Gibraltar

The luxury 72.5 metre megayacht Axioma will soon have a new owner and U.S. investment bank J.P. Morgan should be at least $20 million in pocket - the amount it says it is owed - as the ship has been put to auction in Gibraltar today, Tuesday 23 August, after being repossessed.

Its Russian owner, billionaire Dmitry Pumpyansky, took out a loan for its purchase but sanctions following Russia's invasion of Ukraine meant that the banking giant could no longer accept payments from him and claimed that this meant the loan conditions were not being met.

Pumpyansky is one of the oligarchs close to Russian president Vladimir Putin who was sanctioned after the invasion of Ukraine. In this unusual case, the Axioma was not seized directly because of the sanctions, but because J.P. Morgan filed a legal claim and asked the Gibraltar government to detain the yacht.

This caused a problem because Gibraltar had banned any Russian vessels from entering its ports and special permission had to be granted for the Axioma to be brought in because of the special circumstances of the case.

The auction is by sealed bids only and is being held amid great secrecy, with no announcements about how many people have expressed an interest or what price the six-cabin superyacht is expected to fetch.

Some information is expected to be released later this week, but it is not known whether this will include the name of the buyer or whether all the money will go to J.P. Morgan or to causes which would benefit the Ukrainian people.