- The Washington Times - Monday, December 22, 2003

BALTIMORE (AP) — The state yacht was sold in an online auction for less than its appraisal price, but a spokesman for Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. says he’s satisfied.

After 10 days up for bid on EBay, the 112-foot custom motor vessel, the Maryland Independence, sold for $275,100 on Sunday. A flurry of bidding in the last six minutes pushed the price up by almost $23,000.

The yacht was built as a patrol boat for the Canadian navy during World War II. The state of Maryland bought it in 1986 for $636,000 plus the trade-in of a smaller yacht. It was mainly used to take corporate executives cruising on the Chesapeake Bay to attract companies to Maryland.

It was appraised at between $295,000 and $375,000. The Advantage Group, which marketed the yacht online, will take 10 percent of the sale price as its commission, with the state receiving $247,590.

The sale fulfills a campaign promise made by Mr. Ehrlich, who said it was a symbol of luxury that was inappropriate during a budget crisis, and his spokesman Henry Fawell said the governor was pleased.

“The whole purpose was to figure what to do with underutilized state property and how to maximize its value,” Mr. Fawell said. “It’s a good example of fiscal responsibility as we enter the legislative session.”

The state also will save $228,000 a year that was set aside for yacht maintenance and salaries, said Anne Hubbard, spokeswoman for the Department of General Services.

Miss Hubbard said yesterday that the state had not yet heard from the winning bidder.

The yacht was described in advertising as in good condition. Amenities include a main salon, a dining area, three staterooms and a sun deck.

Asked if the state overpaid for the yacht in 1986, given its lower appraisal and sale price now, Miss Hubbard said: “We really can’t pass any judgment on the price the state paid for something almost 20 years ago.”

Its selling price may have been higher if not for the fact it cannot be used for commercial purposes in the United States because of its foreign origin, officials said. It was built in Canada.

The EBay customer “jtwmuse” did not return an e-mail seeking comment, the Baltimore Sun reported.

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