‘Cursed’ superyacht goes to auction after 20 years

The ‘cursed’ superyacht Bella T, once known as Summit One, is to be auctioned after sitting neglected for 20 years moored in the Port of Cape Town.

The auction is set to be held by vessel-sales specialists Solution Strategists, and consists of four containers of original fittings and engines as well as the superyacht structure.

Court documents show the applicant Rapaport Flagship Limited has a claim that amounts to almost US$1 million. A refit is expected to cost around R30 million (US$2 million), according to a completion plan posted to the auction website.

The 43-metre motoryacht was built in 1977 and has a turbulent history.

Originally named LAC III, the yacht was built for late American industrialist Roy Carver in the 1970s. She was designed by naval architects Arthur de Fever and Doug Sharp and constructed by Bilbao-based Maritima de Axpe.

However, Carver, who made his millions in the tyre retreading business, became frustrated with delays to the build.

Instead of waiting for LAC III to be built, Carver commissioned a new yacht, based on the same design, with Feadship De Vries in the Netherlands. LAC II (later known as Valeria) was completed in 1975, 18 months earlier than her sistership.

Carver died just six years after LAC II was finished. LAC III was sold to the Sultan of Sabah in Malaysia, and then resold to a series of different owners.

Eventually, she was purchased by an American, Earl Romans, in 1999 and renamed Summit One. She was taken to South Africa for a major refit by Farocean Marine in 2001, which included an overall lengthening by 5 metres.

But yet another legal dispute soon fired up, this time between Farocean and Romans, with the refitter accusing the owner of defaulting on multiple payments. The semi-completed refit was abandoned in 2003, and the yacht has been in Cape Town ever since.

Bella T was sold to a company in Dubai in 2008, according to Business Insider SA, shortly before the global financial crisis. The vessel was passed onto Nautic Africa and, finally, to Europa Shipping around five years ago.

After years of legal dispute, Bella T was ordered to a judicial auction by the Western Cape High Court.

The auction valuation documents state that the superyacht is constructed to ‘high standards’ and is in ‘very good condition’, according to a report by the Maritime Bureau of Africa, despite being abandoned for two decades and only semi-completed.

The yacht has six double cabins, crew accommodation and twin caterpillar 750hp engines.

The auction will take place at 11:00am local time (9:00am GMT) on 1 March in at the Western Cape High Court in Cape Town and virtually on Microsoft Teams.