Cape Town’s ‘cursed’ superyacht has been sold – and will sail again, says new owner

Bella T superyacht (Image supplied by Solution Strategists)

  • The Bella T superyacht, originally built for American industrialist Roy Carver in 1976, has lain neglected in Cape Town for more than 20 years.
  • The vessel was ordered to public auction by the Western Cape High Court, but a buyer was found before it went under the hammer.
  • A South African businessman is hoping to return the Bella T to her former glory and is likely to use the vessel as a private charter once the extensive refit project is complete.
  • For more stories go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za.

The Bella T superyacht, neglected in Cape Town for more than 20 years, has been sold to a South African businessman who plans to restore the vessel to its former glory and return it to the sea.

The 45-meter-long superyacht, originally built for famous American industrialist Roy Carver in 1976, has had a colorful life. Carver, frustrated by the slow progress of the build, abandoned the project, and instead contracted another shipyard to construct an exact replica of what was then known as the LAC III.

The sister ship, LAC II, now known as Valeria, has been kept in pristine condition, undergoing an extensive refit in 2008. Currently docked in Monaco, it’s on the market for €15,000,000 (around R250 million).

Bella T’s history has been less glamorous. The vessel spent its early years in Malaysia, before being sold to American Earl Romans in 1999. By that time, the superyacht had already fallen into a state of disrepair and Romans ordered a complete refit, including lengthening the by 5 metres, to be completed by Farocean Marine in Cape Town.

Cape Town cursed yacht Bella T sold

Bella T superyacht (Image supplied by Solution Strategists)

Cape Town cursed yacht Bella T sold

Bella T superyacht (Image supplied by Solution Strategists)

The project started in 2001 but quickly stalled due to payment disputes between Romans and Farocean Marine. “Project 146”, as the superyacht rebuild was known, was passed on to a company in Dubai in 2008, then onto Nautic Africa, and later Europa Shipping.

Bella T was finally ordered to public auction by the Western Cape High Court – in the case of Rapaport Flagship Limited, the applicant, and Europa Shipping Capital SA, the respondent – ​​in November 2021. The auction was due to take place on 1 March.

But Bella T never made it to auction. Solution Strategists, the firm charged with facilitating the auction, managed to find a buyer before 1 March. The pre-auction offer was accepted by the Western Cape High Court.

Cape Town cursed yacht Bella T sold

Bella T superyacht (Image supplied by Solution Strategists)

Cape Town cursed yacht Bella T sold

Bella T superyacht (Image supplied by Solution Strategists)

“When the lawyers went to court for the final order on 1 February, I managed to get a firm private offer from a local South African businessman,” Ariella Kuper of Solution Strategists told Business Insider South Africa.

“It was in the interest of the creditor [Rapaport Flagship Limited] and the judge to accept it… so it’s a favorable outcome for everyone. It’s unusual for that to happen, but we secured the full reserve price, and the judge felt it would be irresponsible not to accept that.”

Kuper would not comment on the final price paid for Bella T, but court documents seen by Business Insider SA indicate that Rapaport had a claim against the vessel amounting to €835,000 (around R14 million).

“The nice thing is that [the new owner] is looking to finish her and put her [back] onto the water. So, it’s a nice ending [that] it’s not going to be chopped up and will actually get a new lease on life,” said Kuper.

Cape Town cursed yacht Bella T sold

Bella T superyacht (Image supplied by Solution Strategists)

Cape Town cursed yacht Bella T sold

Bella T superyacht (Image supplied by Solution Strategists)

It’s expected to cost around R37.7 million to complete Bella T, currently stripped to bare steel with most components in containers, according to estimates seen by Business Insider SA. Initial advice given to potential buyers looking for a quick return was to scrap the vessel and sell off induvial parts.

Kuper added that the unnamed owner was someone who had “been in the industry for decades” and was likely to use Bella T as a private charter vessel once the refurbishments had been completed.

While the new owner has decided not to be named publicly, Danie Halgryn has been named as Bella T’s project manager.

Business Insider’s repeated attempts to contact Halgryn were unsuccessful, but, talking to Boat International, the project manager confirmed that Bella T would be moved to Hout Bay for repairs.

Halgryn added that he was “confident we can restore her quality to a top level” and hoped to “change the perception of her” as a “cursed” vessel.

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