You must be relieved, as we were, to learn in these unsettled economic times that the market for luxury yachts and especially megayachts is sailing right along, with sales worldwide increasing 15 percent a year.
We are indebted to John Tagliabue of The New York Times for immersing himself in the Monaco boat fair, where the largest yacht on display, the 345-foot Lady Moura, was anchored offshore because it was too big to fit in the harbor. Now that’s a megayacht. But it’s not a luxury, no sir.
Olivier Milliex told Tagliabue, who considering the state of the newspaper industry must have exerted steely self-control, “Today a megayacht is indispensable. It’s not like 15 years ago, when a yacht was a luxury item.”
And it takes more than just a 200-foot seagoing palace to be competitive these days. The hot new accessories, Tagliabue reports, are helicopters and minisubmarines. For $2 million, you can slap a helicopter on the cabin roof. The minisub is a comparative bargain at $246,000, but, cautions the salesman, “It’s only for recreation,” as if tycoons might take to torpedoing each other’s megayachts in friendly rivalry.
Rather than buy just any off-the-wharf boat, so to speak, the truly stylish salt will commission one. Said an executive of a German yacht builder, “Anyone who is in the oil business, naturally, is going to be motivated to build a yacht.” Be sure to tell that to Curly down at the Exxon station.
If you commission a yacht and have $34 million like the head of the Benetton chain, according to Tagliabue, you get five spacious bedrooms, each with bath; two exercise rooms; a sauna; a wine cellar; and a baby grand piano. No mention of a live-bait well.
Just thinking about the ultrarich going down to the sea in megayachts makes you recall the John Masefield poem, “All I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by … and a helicopter and a submarine and a grand piano …”