Tuesday 16 January 2018

Irish owners selling Onassis yacht for cut-price €25m

The Christina O, on which Princess Grace had her wedding reception
The Christina O, on which Princess Grace had her wedding reception
John Mulligan

John Mulligan

THE world's most famous superyacht, the Christina O, is for sale for €25m.

A group of Irish investors and a Greek shipping magnate paid €66m for the vessel in the late 1990s. The deal involved Irish businessmen including Robert 'Pino' Harris.

The yacht, once a Canadian anti-submarine frigate called HMCS Stormont, saw action at D-Day before being bought in 1954 by Greek shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis for $34,000, but in the past decade it came to epitomise Ireland's freewheeling boom.


Irish Nationwide, headed at the time by disgraced banker Michael Fingleton, advanced a €2m loan to a Dublin company called Sandyway Investments to help finance the purchase and refurbishment of the yacht. That firm is controlled by Mr Fitzpatrick.

The Irish involvement in the ship hit the headlines in 2002 when it emerged the investors were poised to reap substantial tax breaks.

A case involving the Revenue Commissioners ensued after more than €9m in tax relief was sought by Mr Harris in relation to the yacht's refurbishment. He eventually won his case, and the Government closed the tax loophole the following year.

The Christina O can accommodate 36 guests and a crew of 39 and is available to rent for between €45,000 and €65,000 a day. It has a swimming pool once used by Mr Onassis to store live lobsters, and an original Renoir painting.

The ship has hosted guests including embattled developer Sean Dunne and his wife, Gayle Killilea, when they celebrated their wedding in 2004. In 1956 Princess Grace and Prince Rainier of Monaco held their wedding reception on board.

It was willed by Aristotle Onassis, who died in 1975, to his daughter, Christina, who gifted it to Greece for use as a presidential yacht, and it was sold in the late 1990s to the group that included the Irish buyers.

Irish Independent

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