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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted at 12:20 p.m., Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Hawaii resident buys Kozlowski's $13 million yacht

Bloomberg News

By Karen Freifeld and Jim Silver

Bloomberg News

When L. Dennis Kozlowski, the former chief executive officer of Tyco International Ltd., sold his yacht, the Endeavour, to pay restitution for looting the company, the new owner was somewhat of a mystery.

The historic boat, a 1934 America's Cup entry, was purchased Sept. 28 for $13.1 million by Diversicolor Ltd., a Cayman Islands corporation, according to papers filed in New York state Supreme Court. The sales contract also named Sempervirens Ltd., another company with a Cayman address.

The real owner is a man named Cassio Antunes, a resident of Hawaii, who has big plans for the boat, according to a statement released by his Miami lawyer and people working on the boat in Newport, Rhode Island.

Antunes, 44, has admired the yacht since he was a young boy and plans a significant refit of the sloop as well as a change in its home port to George Town, Cayman Islands, from Newport. He wants to race it again.

The new Endeavour owner is "an investor," said Alexander Busher, a yacht broker with Edmiston & Co. in Monaco who handled the sale, adding he knew little more about him. "He's a man who's quite difficult to trace, he plays his cards quite close," Busher said.

"This sailing vessel had captured the new owner's attention more than 30 years ago," Antunes said in a statement, "when Mr. Antunes, then a young boy, used to go to Italy and visit his grandfather's large yachting library."

His grandfather had been a member of the Royal Italian Yacht Club, the statement said. The club's members in the 1930s included well-known politicians such as relations of former Italian Prime Minister Ivanoe Bonomi, according to the club's secretary in Genoa.

Legal Troubles

Kozlowski's conviction provided "a unique opportunity" to buy the Endeavour, the statement said. "Mr. Antunes and his family feel very fortunate that after thirty years of admiring this yacht, the opportunity arose to actually acquire" it.

Neither Antunes' attorneys at Moore & Co. in Miami, nor people at the Newport shipyard would say what Antunes does for a living. In his statement, Antunes said the boat was sold to "the Antunes family from Lisbon, Portugal." He declined to answer questions faxed to him.

Antunes is the son of Maria Bonomi, 71, a well-known Brazilian artist, according to her adviser, Alexandre Martins, who answered her phone in Sao Paulo. Bonomi, who emigrated from Italy in 1945, is known for engravings and public art.

She also has worked with and married Antunes Filho, a famous Brazilian director, according to the Itau Cultural Encyclopedia. In a 2000 interview with Folha de Sao Paulo newspaper, the director said his parents were poor immigrants from Portugal.

Tall Building

Bonomi's grandfather was Giuseppe Martinelli, the man behind the Martinelli building in Sao Paulo, a landmark built between 1929 and 1934 which was the tallest building in South America for many years, according to the Web site of the City of Sao Paulo. After arriving in Brazil from Italy in 1892, Martinelli became involved in shipping, owning 22 vessels by 1922, the Web site said.

The 130-foot Endeavour, built for British aviation pioneer and yachtsman Thomas Sopwith, underwent repairs and maintenance in Newport before setting sail for Antigua for the winter. It will be in the Caribbean by Christmas, Busher said.

John Koon, a boat surveyor from Hawaii overseeing the work at the shipyard, said he got a call in August from Antunes asking him to go to New England and take Endeavour on a 10-day sea trial in September before its purchase. Hired as the owner's representative, he said he helped inspect the boat as well.

"This was a team of five experts for five days examining every square inch, every bit of the hull from the top of the mast to the bottom of the keel," Koon said.

Race Again

Antunes is a member of the Waikiki Yacht Club in Hawaii, according to the club. His sons race boats on lakes in Geneva, Koon said.

The family wants to race the sloop again against the two other J-class vessels built in the 1930s, the Shamrock V and Velsheda, according to the surveyor.

"He's got the passion for it, which is a pretty rare quality," Koon said of the new owner.

In his statement, Antunes said he had restored the British "Red Ensign" flag on the Endeavour and that it most likely would be based in the harbor at Cascais close to Lisbon in the summer.

It will be available for charter while in Antigua, Koon said. A week's sail costs $77,000, according to the Web site of J Class Management Inc. in Newport. That includes a captain, mate engineer, chef, steward, stewardess and three deckhands. The rate doesn't include food, beverage, fuel, dockage or taxes.

America's Cup

Elizabeth Meyer, president of J Class Management, bought the Endeavour in England in 1984 and spent five years and $10 million restoring it before selling to Kozlowski for $15 million in 2000. The Endeavour hadn't been sailed for almost half a century when she found it.

Kozlowski, who was convicted in June 2005 of stealing $137 million from Tyco and gaining $410 million on sales of inflated shares, has been selling off assets to pay $167 million in fines and restitution. The boat was originally on the market for $17 million.

Marcia Whitney, vice president at J-Class Management, said she has met Antunes and that he plans to take the classic sloop to the next America's Cup. The famed international sailing competition will be held this summer off Valencia, Spain.

"It will go as a spectator," she said of the classic sloop. Antunes "has been following the boat forever, since he was a little boy. He's very excited to own it."

Then again, as Kozlowski said after he bought the boat, "No one truly owns Endeavour. She's a part of yachting history."