A £3.6m yacht 'bought as seen' scuppers tycoon

American multimillionaire sues lawyers after bargain buy splutters to halt on its maiden voyage

For most people, the concept of "buyer beware" usually applies to a second-hand family saloon, but for one multimillionaire American entrepreneur, caveat emptor has taken on a whole new meaning with a blighted luxury yacht purchase and subsequent High Court battle.

When telecoms tycoon Michael Hirtenstein bought the 46ft yacht Candyscape from London property tycoon Christian Candy for the knock-down price of €4.5m (£3.6m), he thought he was "stealing" the vessel from the One Hyde Park owner. This was in July 2010, during the financial crisis and a slump in luxury yacht values. The American had planned to travel to Europe to collect his prize and propose to his girlfriend on board.

Instead, within an hour of doing the deal, when the yacht was 12 miles out to sea in international waters, the starboard engine of his new toy, now called Il Sole (in defiance of superstitions about the risk of renaming boats), suffered catastrophic failure.

This month, in a rare insight into the secretive world of luxury yachts and their even more secretive wealthy owners, the case ended up in the High Court in London, with Mr Hirtenstein suing his own lawyers Hill Dickinson for their failure to obtain a guarantee over the condition of the yacht.

Hill Dickinson partner James Lawson, who arranged the purchase from Mr Candy's company Candyscape Ltd, had assured Mr Hirtenstein that it came with a personal guarantee. However, after a two-week hearing, Mr Justice Leggatt has ruled that no such guarantee existed.

Mr Hirtenstein, who in court described the yacht as a "vanity purchase", made his fortune with the sale of his telecoms start-up for $270m in 2005 before establishing a New York property empire.

Christian Candy used to own the yacht Christian Candy used to own the yacht The yacht, which Mr Candy purchased for $12.45m in 2005, was originally advertised for €17m, but sold for only €4.5m as an "as is, where is" purchase to Mr Hirtenstein in what was described in one court document as an "emergency fire sale".The court heard how, before the sale, Mr Hirtenstein had said that the yacht "should only retain or increase in value since I am stealing it". But after the engine failure, estimates for repair or replacement came in at more than $450,000 after Il Sole was towed back to shore, reportedly in Italy, before Mr Hirtenstein subsequently transported the yacht to New York and invested more than $2.5m in a complete refit and replacement of both engines in June 2011.

The Independent on Sunday understands it is now available for charter from $135,000 per week, and according to maritime tracking services it is currently cruising the coves and bays off the Hamptons on Long Island in New York.

However, while Mr Justice Leggatt ruled that while Hill Dickinson was liable for legal negligence, which the firm accepted, he said that this had not caused Mr Hirtenstein to suffer any loss. He was entitled only to nominal damages, partly because the claimant would have bought the yacht in any event. The judge's ruling also found that Mr Hirtenstein didn't specifically ask for a guarantee.

A costs hearing is expected in October, when the "nominal damages" amount will be determined, with a source close to the defence case saying this is expected to be "a peppercorn amount". The source added that Hill Dickinson considered the case a victory over Mr Hirtenstein and would be "pursuing him for substantial costs",

In a statement Hill Dickinson said: "Hill Dickinson regrets that a mistake was made in this matter. The firm highlighted the error to the client as soon as it came to their attention and was satisfied that it had caused the client no loss. This position has been vindicated in the judgment."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Life and Style
Powdered colors are displayed for sale at a market ahead of the Holi festival in Bhopal, India
techHere's what you need to know about the riotous occasion
Arts and Entertainment
Larry David and Rosie Perez in ‘Fish in the Dark’
theatreReview: Had Fish in the Dark been penned by a civilian it would have barely got a reading, let alone £10m advance sales
News
Details of the self-cleaning coating were published last night in the journal Science
science
News
Approved Food sell products past their sell-by dates at discounted prices
i100
News
Life-changing: Simone de Beauvoir in 1947, two years before she wrote 'The Second Sex', credited as the starting point of second wave feminism
peopleHer seminal feminist polemic, The Second Sex, has been published in short-form to mark International Women's Day
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Finance Assistant / Credit Controller

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are an award-winning digit...

Ashdown Group: Senior VMware Platform Engineer - VMware / SAN / Tier3 DC

£45000 - £55000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior VMware Platform En...

Recruitment Genius: Purchasing Assistant

£10000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A distributor of specialist ele...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Ledger Assistant

£17000 - £19000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A distributor of specialist ele...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

Homeless Veterans campaign

Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

Lost without a trace

But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

Confessions of a planespotter

With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

Russia's gulag museum

Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

The big fresh food con

Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

Virginia Ironside was my landlady

Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

Paris Fashion Week 2015

The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
8 best workout DVDs

8 best workout DVDs

If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

Paul Scholes column

I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable