Judge: Buy the Sequoia or don’t

Aug 24, 2015 by Guest Writer

A Delaware judge has given a lender 60 days to decide whether to buy the presidential yacht USS Sequoia, which sits needing repairs in a Virginia shipyard, according to a story by the Associated Press.

Owners of the yacht, Sequoia Presidential Yacht Group, argue that the company from which agreed to borrowed about $7.5 million to pay for repairs has not held up its terms. FE Partners say it is the group that has defaulted on loan terms so FE Partners is entitled to buy the yacht.

Sequoia group’s owner is Washington, D.C.-based attorney Gary Silversmith, who sued FE Partners in New York County for defaulting on the loan agreements by only providing half. The Supreme Court of the State of New York dismissed the complaint in February 2013.

Since then, however, FE Partners has refused to exercise its option, which it claims is valid through 2017, to buy either the yacht or the Sequoia group, the AP reported. At issue is how much in tax liability and other liabilities are associated with the yacht. Under the loan terms, FE Partners can subtract those liabilities from the eventual purchase price of the yacht. FE Partners alleges that the liabilities would exceed the $7.8 million exercise price to acquire the yacht.

In late July, Vice Chancellor Sam Glasscock III gave FE Partners 60 days to decide whether to exercise its purchase option.

A national historic landmark, the 104-foot yacht was built in 1925 and served every president from Herbert Hoover through Gerald Ford. President Kennedy celebrated his last birthday aboard the Sequoia, and a melancholy President Nixon played “God Bless America” on a piano in the Sequoia upon deciding to resign from the White House.

Though owned by an Indian businessman, FE Partners said in a statement in 2013 it is committed to keeping the Sequoia in the United States and properly funding its maintenance.