Mega billionaire Jeff Bezos leads ‘tumultuous market’ of new superyacht orders for the ultra-rich
Even in the ostentatious world of superyachts, the Y721 project stands out.
When completed, it will be 127 meters (417 feet) long, span multiple decks, and sport three massive masts, according to the scant information available on its manufacturer’s website and various online bulletin boards from enthusiasts. of yachting.
This will make her one of the largest sailing yachts ever built in the Netherlands, the unofficial capital of boat building for the extremely wealthy.
Or in this case, for the richest of the rich: Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon and the richest person on the planet, owns the boat that is slated to move to a new shipyard for completion next month, according to people familiar with the billionaire’s pet project. . A spokesperson for Oceanco, the Dutch yacht maker responsible for the ship, declined to comment.
Mr Bezos’ superyacht, which will likely cost more than $ 500 million to build and have its own support yacht with a helipad, is the latest prop to herald the transformation of Amazonian mogul from geeky technologist into mega-billionaire globe. -trotter. It’s an indication of the enormity of a fortune that has piled up even faster as the world has been rocked by a devastating pandemic.
It’s also a testament to a fiercely secretive industry that evidently flourished thanks to Covid-19, and a blatant embodiment of the widening chasm between the fortunes of the super-rich and almost everyone in the world. in the last 14 months.
Steven Spielberg also has a new yacht on order, according to three people familiar with the director’s plans, who were not authorized to speak publicly about it. Her current yacht was recently put up for sale for 131 million euros ($ 158 million). A spokesperson for Mr Spielberg declined to comment.
“The market is booming,” said Sam Tucker, head of superyacht research at London-based VesselsValue. The number of transactions in recent quarters “has broken records – the second-hand market is absolutely hot”.
In fact, the demand for extremely high-end yachts has exceeded the supply. “You can’t get a spot in a new yard,” Tucker said. “They are totally reserved.”
The inland waterways of northern Germany, home to several highly regarded shipbuilders, are filled with block-sized steel hulls of the city of future superyachts as well as existing yachts for a spruce top.
Customers can enjoy life at sea for long periods of time without having to mingle with others
Aino Grapin, Managing Director of Winch Design
In total, around 50 boats over 100 meters are currently under construction, Tucker said. Luerssen, based in Bremen, is responsible for 10.
Covid-19 was not a factor when Mr Bezos placed his order a few years ago, but it has contributed to the boom in the industry. With the galas canceled and land borders closed, yachting suddenly emerged as the best option for private and socially remote recreation and a good way to escape the prying eyes of the public who might look askance at the abuse of the wealthy. during difficult times.
The pandemic has given new value to so-called explorer yachts, some of which can sail 9,000 nautical miles without needing to refuel, said Aino Grapin, general manager of superyacht-interior studio Winch Design.
“Customers can enjoy life at sea for long periods of time without having to mingle with others,” she says.
As in any industry, yacht builders had cause for concern last year when initial lockdowns froze new orders and markets plunged. But, in the summer, the ultra-rich realized that they hadn’t really lost any money. In many ways, 2020 has been a banner year. As business closures left millions unemployed and global gross domestic product plummeted, the world’s richest people added $ 1.8 trillion to their collective fortunes, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index .
And the orders started to flow.
“The type of wealth has changed but not the wealth itself,” said Giovanna Vitelli, vice president of the Azimut Benetti group, which has nearly three dozen superyachts in its order book. “This is the difference with 2008 when the crisis was really generalized.”
The influx has upset industry conventions. Normally, it took years for wealthy clients to muster the courage to splurge on a huge boat. They would usually start by chartering and then buy something relatively small – say, a 100 footer. Now they’re going right for the big stuff, brokers said.
Part of this is the lifestyle exchange. Whereas before they rented a villa for their dozens of friends and family, they now welcome them on the ship. People also buy yachts before they even get on board, which was unheard of just a year ago.
The enthusiasm of yachting neophytes for boat ownership is another indicator of the growing fortunes of the rich as the world heads for a K-shaped recovery from the pandemic. Beyond the initial purchase price, owning a superyacht is expensive, with operating costs averaging around 10% of a boat’s value, or $ 60 million per year and more at the top.
This will not bother Mr. Bezos, whose fortune hovers around $ 200 billion, according to the Bloomberg ranking. In 2019, Mr. Bezos took a liking to the yachting life, vacationing on Eos, the sailboat of friend Barry Diller and his wife, fashion designer Diane Von Furstenberg. That same year, rumors were circulating online that he had purchased a 130-meter motor yacht called the Flying Fox. But these reports were wrong; Mr. Bezos’ sailboat will be similar to Mr. Diller’s.
One thing he won’t have, because of his huge sails, is a helipad. So Mr Bezos and his partner, helicopter pilot Lauren Sanchez, have ordered a support yacht, people familiar with their plans have said.
Amazon’s chief executive, however, may want to heed the lesson learned by fellow billionaire David Geffen about the humility of superyachts. The DreamWorks Animation co-founder sparked global outrage last March after posting images on Instagram of his sunset view from his superyacht, Rising Sun.
“Isolated in the Grenadines avoiding the virus,” he wrote. “I hope everyone is safe.”