Super yacht Indian Empress sold by court auction for €43.5 million

The luxury yacht boasts a 15-seat cinema and Sir Elton John’s baby grand piano had been impounded in a 'maritime lien' which gives the crew claim over the vessel to the value of the unpaid wages

The Indian Empress
The Indian Empress

The luxury yacht Indian Empress, which belonged to a former Indian politician and co-owner of Formula One Force India team Vijay Vittal Mallya, has been sold by court auction for €43.5 million.

Indian Empress went under the hammer by court order in Malta after being hit by a maritime lien over a wage bill. The identity of the winning bidder is not known, but is understood to be a company.

In April, the super yacht's owner had been ordered by a civil court to settle an outstanding bill in favour of local marine repairs and services company Melita Power Diesel Limited, after the latter had to summary proceedings to claim the debt.

A court had also ordered it to pay €234,129 ($290,426) in backdated salaries to 15 of its crewmembers, just a month after it was condemned to pay over €600,000 to a fuel supplier and €92,000 to its senior staff. 

A series of claims have been made over the vessel,which was impounded in Malta in March due to an ongoing wage dispute with its crew. 

Some of the senior crew, who have not left the vessel since it was abandoned by its owner, are owed up to $92,000 in unpaid wages dating back to September.

The 95-metre vessel – bought by Indian multimillionaire Vijay Mallya from a Qatari sheikh for a reported $113 million in 2006 – has been using a berth at Manoel Island marina for years, replacing Mallya’s previous 55-metre boat Indian Princess. The luxury yacht, which boasts a 15-seat cinema and Sir Elton John’s baby grand piano, has been impounded in a “maritime lien” which gives the crew claim over the vessel to the value of the unpaid wages.

Mallya fled to the UK on 2 March, leaving over €1 billion in unpaid loans from 17 banks. The 60-year-old left India just hours before the State Bank of India started proceedings to seize his passport to prevent him from leaving the country.

Mallya, co-owner of the Force India Formula One team and self-proclaimed “King of the Good Times”, was then arrested in London last year over allegations he supported his F1 team with money-laundered cash.

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