Multimillion-dollar yacht at center of legal battle placed 'under arrest' at boat show

Federal authorities in Florida effectively placed a $3.4 million yacht under arrest to prevent the boat from ending up in the wrong hands as a bitter legal battle ensues, according to a report.

U.S. Marshals took the Sunseeker 74-foot Sport Yacht into custody late Sunday at Bahia Mar in Fort Lauderdale, where it was featured in the 60th Annual Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show. Following the conclusion of the show, federal authorities took over the vessel, which was ultimately handed over to a court-appointed third party, National Maritime Services, and transported to an “undisclosed location,” the South Florida Sun Sentinel reported Tuesday.

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The yacht is at the center of a legal battle between its buyer, the boat’s manufacturer, Sunseeker International, and a Fort Lauderdale-area yacht broker.

A spokesperson for Sunseeker USA Sales Company Inc. told the FOX Business Obey had neglected to pay for the yacht, which prompted the legal dispute between the companies.

"The disputes are being addressed appropriately through judicial process," the company said in a prepared statement.

The yacht will remain under control of the National Maritime Services until the matter is resolved.

"In March 2019 Sunseeker USA Sales Co, Inc. terminated its dealer agreement with [Rick Obey and Associates] for material default," the statement continues, "and in order to prevent future harm to customers and the public, in June 2019 Sunseeker USA Sales Co, Inc obtained a preliminary injunction preventing ROAA from continuing to unlawfully represent itself as a Sunseeker ... dealer."

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In May, Kevin Turner sued Sunseeker International in the U.K., as well as Sunseeker USA and the broker, Rick Obey & Associates for $4 million claiming Sunseeker never handed over the boat, and has neglected to refund him the nearly $4 million he paid Obey to have the vessel built, because of an unrelated dispute between Obey and the boat manufacturer, according to the report and court papers.

The yacht cost Turner $3.43 million, plus tax, additional upgrades and delivery costs, court papers filed on Oct. 25 show. The total cost of the boat was about $4 million, Turner told FOX Business.

In a statement to FOX Business, Obey said he "sincerely regrets that Mr. Turner and his wife are caught up in this."

"Rick Obey & Associates believe the customer should come first and any internal issues should be worked out between the two parties without the customers being involved," the statement added.

Obey noted that Sunseeker is withholding 3,100,00 British pounds, or roughly $3.9 million from his company.

"Rick Obey & Associates has asked Sunseeker to apply a portion of these funds to Mr. Turner’s boat, so the boat can be released," he said in the statement. "Sunseeker International has refused."

It was not Turner's first Sunseeker vessel. The yacht in question was his fifth, was "incredibly personal" to him. Including his most recent purchase, he's spent more than $12 million over the years on Sunseeker boats and has factory workers' phone numbers programmed into his cell phone.

"So you understand, this is the fifth Sunseeker that I've bought. The factory knows me," Turner told FOX Business on Wednesday, "It’s amazing how well they treat their customers because basically they treated me like they have no idea who I am and I’m basically trying to scam them out of a boat."

Turner and his wife made payments from October 2018 through March 2019, and purchased the yacht in full, but "are currently being deprived" of the boat while Sunseeker and the Obey handle their own legal back-and-forth.

"I was gonna live on it and tour around the Mediterranean — a life’s goal," Turner said. "It baffles me how and why I have been treated like this."

He already paid to have the boat delivered to his desired location, with diesel in the tank. But when the documents were not delivered as requested, and which were needed to have his boat registered, he began asking questions.

"I kept saying, ‘Why won’t you give me the papers?’ he recalled. "Myself and several other people were basically trapped in the middle of their dispute."

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Meanwhile, Turner, who has not yet had the chance to walk on the boat in its completed form, said he is left wondering why he is caught in the middle.

“I don’t really know what I did to be drawn into the middle of their dispute. I’m personally very hurt by it. I have been so poorly treated that it is beyond my comprehension," he said. "They are hurting me as much as they can hurt me.”

This story was updated to include a statement from Obey and Sunseeker USA Sales Co, Inc, and the input of the boat purchaser, Kevin Turner.