How to sell a luxury yacht
An elite British billionaire has bought a luxury luxury yacht in an attempt to win the hearts and minds of the public, but the buyer has been dogged by controversy and claims he is profiting off his private estate.
The luxury yacht, dubbed “The Empress”, has been named by the Sun newspaper as one of three private islands on the British Virgin Islands where the wealthy have taken advantage of a loophole in the island’s controversial foreign ownership rules to acquire property without having to first go through the proper process.
It is the first time a private island has been purchased for sale in the UK, where property rights to private properties are restricted.
The island’s owners, Sir Ian Wood, have made a $10.3 million profit on the sale of the £50 million yacht, the Guardian newspaper reported.
But the yacht has drawn controversy after the billionaire’s private yacht, The Empress, was bought by a French businessman, Pierre Nahon, in 2013 for $10 million.
The Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry, who are both on the island, are said to have used the proceeds to buy an adjoining mansion on the Isle of Wight for their families.
A spokesperson for Sir Ian told the paper the yacht’s owners had taken a “very careful” approach to the purchase, saying: “We were very careful about the fact that they would not be able to use the money to benefit their own business interests.”
But the Duchess of Cornwall’s sister, Kate Middleton, tweeted on Tuesday that the yacht had been bought “at a terrible time”.
She wrote: “The Duchess has been in the spotlight, she has been sold at a terrible moment.
So it’s a little bit of a relief.”
But Sir Ian’s spokesperson told the Sun that the Duchess was buying a yacht “for her own benefit” and “not for profit”.
The yacht’s owner said he was not involved in the purchase of the luxury yacht.
“The Empress was purchased in 2013 by Pierre Najon and is now owned by the Duke of York and his wife, Kate,” the spokesperson said.
“Mr Najons intention is not to profit from the sale.”
The spokesperson also said the yacht was a private property, but did not elaborate.
The yacht has been beset by controversy after it was purchased by a Frenchman for $7 millionThe Duchess and the Duke were photographed leaving the yacht while on holiday in the Caribbean in 2014.
But in May 2016, it was reported that Mr Nahon had used the yacht to purchase a second luxury yacht for £11 million, a yacht owned by billionaire businessman Alisher Usmanov.
In a statement, Sir Nahon said: “I have been working with a specialist team for more than two years to ensure that the property is used in a way that is not in conflict with the terms of my contract with the Duchess and her family.”
The Duchess was not at the time questioned about her role in the transaction.
However, the Duchess has come under fire for buying the yacht for the Duke, with critics accusing her of profiting from her family’s wealth.
Ms Middleton tweeted on Monday that the Duke had “given us a very good news report” about the purchase.
“I hope he’ll be pleased that his son has now bought the Empress for his own benefit,” she said.
Sir Ian, who is worth $5.7 billion, has been embroiled in a row with the UK’s Home Office over a potential ban on the buying of luxury goods in the country.
Last month, he was accused of having a conflict of interest in buying a luxury private jet, the Queen Elizabeth II, for his wife.
He said he did not have a conflict and had sold the jet to the government, but said the jet was now owned and operated by private jet company Aer Lingus.
The row has also sparked a backlash against the Duchess, with a petition calling for her to be stripped of the title “Emperor” and renamed “Emma”.