Bernie Ecclestone buys Briatore’s Force Blue at auction – Photos by LN
Four bids were placed at the police auction which started with a base price of 7 million euros. The highest bid belonged to Ecclestone, Briatore’s friend. The megayacht was seized in 2010
Force Blue, the 63 metre megayacht seized in 2010 at La Spezia from Flavio Briatore, has a new owner. Her new owner is Bernie Ecclestone, a former patron of Formula 1 and a great friend of Briatore’s.
The British entrepreneur won the megayacht, currently docked at the Marina di Genova Aeroporto, during a police auction which concluded on Wednesday 27 January. The bids were opened at the Hotel Bristol in Genoa, where the notary, Ugo Bechini compared the four bids received (in addition to Ecclestone’s there were those of three foreign companies), giving the Force Blue to Ecclestone, who offered 7 million 490 thousand euros, around half a million more than the base price of 7 million euros, for a yacht whose value is estimated to be over 20 million euros.
The “M/Y Force Blue – it says on the police auction website – 1325 GT of gross tonnage and 397 NT of net tonnage, built in May 2002 by the Royal Denship shipyard (Denmark), registered in the ‘Shipping Registry’ of the Cayman Islands, port of registration, George Town – 125 IN 2002, Num. 735502 and ZCGUB” was seized in 2010, following an investigation for tax evasion.
Flavio Briatore and the four other accused were to have used the megayacht for pleasure boating in the territorial waters of Italy from July 2006 to May 2010, without paying the VAT due for the import, for the amount of 3.6 million euros, for having registered fuel consumption as tax exempt when it should have been taxed, and having invoiced for non-existent works.
On 31 December it was decided to auction the yacht, though Briatore, through his legal advisors, had tried to stop it in every way, presenting four appeals, the last of which received a negative response from the Court of Appeals only a few hours before the auction opened. The patron of the Billionaire offered to pay the storage costs, but the judges, under the advice of the judicial guardian, Ugo Brunoni, decided to go ahead with the auction, due to the risk of decay, given that the yacht, built in 2002 and the 78th biggest in the world at that time, has been docked for so many years.
In 2019 the Force Blue sailed for brief periods as a charter to allow the State to make back some of the expenses. A few brief cruises were also done in the summer of 2020, when we saw the Force Blue in roads off Santa Margherita Ligure, as can bee seen in the photographs taken on 1 August.
And yet all is not lost for Briatore. Indeed, in a few days, the Court of Appeal was supposed to make a decision regarding the annulment of the seizure. But the judgement, expected to be on 12 February, was pushed to June, because of some Covid cases among the members fo the jury. If the Supreme Court decides in favour of the entrepreneur from Piemonte, Briatore would receive the money from the 7,490,000 euro cheque written by Ecclestone, after the removal of the management expenses for the vessel for the last few years.
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