by Rob Kothe
The history of the America's Cup has had one constant over the last 155 years, the lawyers.
Now the Swiss holders of the America's Cup, the Societe Nautique de Geneve (SNG) say they will now launch legal action against an unidentified New Zealander in an attempt to regain the last remnant piece of the prestigious yachting trophy.
SNG has confirmed that that Friday’s 5pm Auckland deadline for the individual to surrender a piece of the world's most important sailing trophy had expired, without result.
'We are doing what is needed to recover the piece. Legal steps are being taken,' Alec Tournier, SNG secretary general to the Reuters news agency.
'We have a legal obligation as trustee of the America's Cup so pieces are not scattered across the world and legal proceedings against the other individual had become unavoidable.’
SNG has not publicly named the individual who is alleged to be holding the remnant but has said this has nothing to do with Team New Zealand.
In 1997 the trophy was smashed with a sledgehammer by a Maori demonstrator, who was later sentenced to almost four year in jail for criminal damage, when it was on display in Auckland after New Zealand first win.
SNG said in a statement that it had obtained proof that some remnant pieces were stolen from the London-based firm Garrard, who had made the original trophy in 1848 and who were entrusted with the repairs.
The pieces were later bought by a New Zealand charitable trust and allegedly by a private individual in Auckland.
This information became public knowledge when Auckland-based The Spirit of Adventure Trust proposed to selling its piece to raise funds.
According to SNG, the Spirit of Adventure Trust had surrendered the piece to the SNG’s New Zealand lawyers, as soon as they realised that the pieces may have been stolen goods and these wereexpected to be back in Geneva in less than a month.
The Commodore of the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron, which was responsible for the 'Auld Mug' while it was in New Zealand, has said the Squadron did not know who the other holder was, but hoped the piece would be returned to the Swiss.