THE BLOG
08/27/2014 03:47 pm ET Updated Oct 27, 2014

The Fight to Save the Sequoia

The Sequoia is a majestic and handsome yacht which is an important piece of American History. Life changing historic events have taken place on the Sequoia from the Hoover Administration through to the Carter Administration. Some of the most dramatic events took place when Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman, John F. Kennedy, and Richard Nixon were on board (at different eras, of course!) The Sequoia is docked in SouthWest Washington, at the Gangplank Marina, and is available for charter. Visitors can sit on the Presidential beds, use their bathrooms, desks, bar, table, piano, and be part of history. Owner Gary Silversmith often gives free tours to fellow Veterans, Wounded Warriors, Boy Scouts, and other deserving people

In recent years, a bitter legal battle has ensued over ownership of Sequoia. The present owner, Gary Silversmith, has given us an exclusive look at this side of the argument in a Court Motion. The other side would, of course, present it differently.

Here is Gary Silversmith's motion:

The Sequoia Presidential Yacht Group, LLC, owner of the national historic landmark, the USS Sequoia, has filed a Motion in court to try to extricate itself from its lender, FE Partners. The Sequoia is apparently anxious to pay off the lender in full, but FE Partners refuses to accept a pay-off. FE Partners wants to buy the boat, and yet they are now accused of acting in "bad faith" in their effort to acquire this historic gem. FE's efforts to acquire the Sequoia are governed by L. Michael Cantor of Washington, D.C.

Part of the controversy is that this "floating White House", as the History Channel called it, could end up in the hands of the Audhut Timblo family from Goa India. The Timblos own iron ore mines in India, and thus the name of their entity, "FE", for the atomic symbol of iron. In 2012, Goa shut down the "illegal" iron mining operations in India, and Mr. Timblo publicly threatened "a revolution" if the mining did not commence (December 2, 2012; The Times of India). Prior to that, when Audhut Timblo's father died, Audhut litigated with his brothers and mother in order to get control of the family mining operations.

On August 13, 2014, the Sequoia filed a Motion in the Delaware Chancery Court to enforce the court's Final Order. In the litigation, the Judge appointed an "Independent Counsel", who was agreed to by both parties. Both parties decided that the Independent Counsel would be prominent Delaware attorney, Michael Maimone. In the Motion, the Sequoia quotes a letter from
Mr. Maimone to the Judge, that appears quite critical of the dilatory conduct of FE Partners:

"Unfortunately, the delay of (FE Partners) in responding to requests for information has been a common occurrence during the investigation. Specifically, throughout the investigation, (FE Partners) has been less than responsive to various requests for information that have been made by me. Although it is unnecessary to offer more specifics than are mentioned above (and mentioned in my letter to Your Honor dated March 20, 2014), the delay caused by such lack of responsiveness (in my view) was substantial. It is not apparent to me the justification for such delay, and (in my view) it is not appropriate for me to speculate in attempting to understand the reason for such delay, but it is accurate for me to state that the delay caused Plaintiffs to realize various costs that Plaintiffs would not have realized absent such delay."


The Sequoia's argument against FE Partners appears to be summarized in the conclusion to its Motion: "A borrower should not be inextricably bound to a lender in a litigious and acrimonious relationship, especially when the borrower has offered to pay off the lender in full." It seems that Mr. Cantor and FE Partners have tried to create stormy waters for the Sequoia.