Palma.—The decision by Spain's King Juan Carlos, to give up his royal yacht in a gesture of solidarity has sparked an ownership row after the Balearic group of businessmen, which also included the Balearic government at the time, who gave it to him, demanded the gift be returned.

Last month the Royal Palace announced the 75-year-old monarch would renounce the use of his 21-million euro (£14 million) yacht Fortuna for “austerity reasons” and would hand it over to Spain's National Heritage Department.

But last week, the group of local businessmen and women, who chipped in to pay for the gift thirteen years ago, demanded that it be returned to them and not the government if the King no longer wanted to use it.

In a letter to the administrators of Spain's National Patrimony, the representatives of the group argued “that the gift had been made with the stipulation that the yacht be used by the king and members of his family”.

Some 30 individuals contributed around 600'000 euros each, towards the yacht in recognition for the King's role in promoting the Balearics.
But, a proposal tabled by the Balearic left wing opposition stated it should be sold and funds raised to help the needy in the Balearics has received full backing of the local government, which at the time under Jaume Matas, put 2.7 million euros of public funds in to the project. However, Madrid will have the final say of the yacht's future.