Auctioneer tight-lipped on identity of new owner

Who bought Ke Nako, the ‘cocaine’ yacht that has been gathering seagulls at the V&A marina for several months? All we know for sure is that the new owner is foreign and presumably a little less dodgy than the previous owners, whoever they were.

Auctioneer Ariella Kuper has confirmed the judicial sale of the mystery vessel which made headlines for all the wrong reasons. She was abandoned at the V&A after reportedly playing a starring role in a drug run involving the transfer of drugs from a ‘mothership’ out at sea.

In August the Hawks confirmed the arrest of two suspects linked to Ke Nako. The vessel “was used to collect a large quantity of Cocaine during March/April 2021,” a Hawks spokesman told the Sunday Times.

The vessel, which hails from the Nexus yard in St Francis Bay, was sold to unidentified foreign buyers over two years ago, the Sunday Times reported. It was unclear if the buyers featured among the arrests liked to the drug smuggling case, of which there have been eight to date – including the latest linked to Ke Nako.

Kuper said the judicial sale last month had achieved a satisfactory price, although the amount was not disclosed. “An independent valuation was conducted in order to understand the market value in her current condition, noting the amount of time she had been standing and the amount of work that needed to be done on her,” Kuper said. “Originally it was decided that it would go on (judicial) auction in February. But then it was decided to try and secure a sale in advance of February to try and mitigate the holding costs and expenses, and the cost of taking it to sale.”

“This was successfully done,” Kuper said.

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