Yacht Rock: Miki Naftali facing $725K lawsuit from boat broker

“We know the guy. We don’t owe him anything, and that’s why we filed a lawsuit,” said Naftali

Developer Miki Naftali (Credit: Naftali Group and iStock)
Developer Miki Naftali (Credit: Naftali Group and iStock)

Developer Miki Naftali is in hot water over his latest yacht purchase.

Yacht broker Scott Goldsworthy is suing the developer for about $725,000 over his boat purchase from Italian manufacturer Baglietto, arguing that Naftali and Baglietto cut him out of the deal and did not pay him any commission despite the extensive work he put into making the deal happen.

The suit, which was filed in Broward County, Florida, follows an earlier lawsuit that Naftali had filed against Goldsworthy in New York Supreme Court asking for a declaratory judgement saying Goldsworthy is not entitled to any commission from the yacht deal.

“Our position is very clear,” Naftali said. “We know the guy. We don’t owe him anything, and that’s why we filed a lawsuit.”

Goldsworthy has been a yacht broker for about 15 years and known Naftali for about six years, his lawsuit says. He had consistently worked as Naftali’s yacht broker during their relationship and always received a commission on his deals to buy and sell yachts, according to his lawsuit.

He worked on Naftali’s purchase of the Baglietto yacht from 2016 through fall of 2017, having regular in-person meetings with him and discussing the criteria, design and quality specifications for his new boat, according to his lawsuit. Naftali also said during this time that Goldsworthy would receive 5 percent of the yacht’s total sales price as his commission on the deal, which Baglietto CEO Michele Gavino agreed to, his suit says.

However, when Naftali ultimately decided to purchase his new yacht from Baglietto, part of the reason was that they agreed to exclude Goldsworthy from the contract, according to his lawsuit.

“Naftali and Gavino, on behalf of Baglietto, engaged in this illicit scheme so that Naftali could save money on the price of the new build, and so that Baglietto could close the deal with a customer based in the United States,” Goldsworthy’s suit reads. “Baglietto wanted to infiltrate the custom yacht market in the United States and believed this transaction would help to solidify that goal.”

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After Naftali signed a contract with Baglietto, he told Goldsworthy he would pay him his commission directly, which Goldsworthy had a problem with, the broker’s suit says. Naftali then met with Goldsworthy in March 2018 and said he was not going to receive a commission at all, according to Goldsworthy.

Naftali’s lawsuit says that he and Goldsworthy never had a written agreement about his potential yacht purchase and that the two stopped working together on the possible deal in October 2016. In June 2017, Gavino reached out directly to Naftali, and Naftali told him he was now thinking about purchasing a smaller yacht that would have “lower operating costs and a greater amount of privacy for his family,” according to the developer’s suit.

This is the boat that he ultimately decided to move forward with, and Naftali’s suit claims that Goldsworthy “did not play any role in the negotiations” for the project and that Naftali “never discussed his potential construction” of the boat with Goldsworthy.

Baglietto did not respond to a request for comment.

Naftali’s firm the Naftali Group is currently at work on several projects in New York City. These include an assemblage from 1039-1045 Madison Avenue on the Upper East Side and a luxury condo project with Rockefeller Group at 200 East 83rd Street. The firm also went under contract to buy 470 Kent Avenue on the Williamsburg waterfront in February for about $182 million.

Joshua Alper, Goldsworthy’s attorney, said the yacht cost about $14 million overall, and Goldsworthy had done a significant amount of work on what was a very complicated deal.

“This was truly a two-year period where my client was involved in the specific details of this yacht,” he said, “and at the last minute, he was denied his entitlement to his commission on work that he did for over two years.”