The world’s most exclusive mode of transportation might just be a luxury Superyacht. However, there is just a handful that fit the description of a gigayacht, which is a pleasure craft that is 295 feet or longer. Their ambiguous ownership histories provide an insight into contemporary power and wealth: Twenty are connected to former or present Soviet Union citizens, and more than two dozen are associated with Gulf royals, businessmen, or states.
According to reports, at least 23 of them—including the creators of WhatsApp, Snapchat, Microsoft, Netscape, and Amazon—belonged to Americans. One was owned by the widow of a German retailer who prospered under Hitler; two others, a Formula 1 dad and a tax exile in the UK, do. The former yacht of Yugoslav strongman Tito and Dominican dictator Trujillo are included in the list. Explore the past of the ships and their—fairly—less ostentatious sister ships.
History of Superyacht
1895: The Germans’ 121-foot yacht, Meteor II, beats the British yacht, Britannia, in a race off the Isle of Wight, prompting the future King Edward VII of England to punch his nephew, Kaiser Wilhelm II, in the face. This incident occurred nineteen years before the Great War.
1954: With his 325-foot Christina O., Greek shipping tycoon Aristotle Onassis ushers in a postwar era of one-upmanship. It has pornographic carvings, furniture made of whale foreskin, and a pool that doubles as a dance floor.
1963: JFK follows future Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee’s wife, Antoinette, into the bathroom during his farewell birthday celebration on the presidential yacht Sequoia, where he gropes her. Later on, she says, “I guess I was pretty surprised, but I was kind of flattered, and appalled, too.” The visitor logs on board the ship are destroyed following Kennedy’s murder.
1984 saw the record-breaking 482-foot Prince Abdulaziz built by Saudi Arabia’s King Fahd.
1987: Shortly before pictures of Sen. Gary Hart (D-Colorado) with model Donna Rice on the yacht Monkey Business surface, Hart withdraws from the presidential contest.
1988: Nabila, which was in the James Bond movie Never Say Never Again and had previously belonged to Saudi arms dealer Adnan Khashoggi, is acquired by Donald Trump. He gives it the new name Trump Princess, installs a disco and modifies the helipad’s “H” to a “T.”
1991: Trump sells Trump Princess to his bank, which then transfers ownership to a Saudi prince, following the bankruptcy of one of his casinos. He claimed that the Trump Princess II would be “something over 400 feet long, closer to 500 feet,” but the new yacht is never constructed.
The body of British publisher Robert Maxwell, who was sailing a 180-foot vessel named the Lady Ghislaine after his daughter, is discovered in the Atlantic Ocean. Eventually, Rupert’s second wife, Anna Murdoch, purchases the vessel back.
1994: Boris Berezovsky meets Roman Abramovich at a cocktail party on the oligarch Petr Aven’s yacht in the Caribbean, referring to him as a “nice boy who wanted to discuss commercial projects.” He starts collaborating with Abramovich to buy the Russian state oil company Sibneft.
1997: The Limited’s 316-foot Limitless, owned by Les Wexner of Victoria’s Secret, comes to an end of construction. Jeffrey Epstein, his close friend, was in charge of the project.
1999: Larry Ellison, a co-founder of Oracle, purchases the 191-foot Izanami from a Japanese vendor. After “the local newspapers started pointing out that Izanami was ‘I’m a Nazi spelled backward,'” he changed the name to Ronin, he later said.
2001: Former CEO Jeffrey Skilling seeks guidance from a business executive on locating a yacht broker several months before Enron’s bankruptcy filing. He cautions Skilling, “This industry is known for crooks and thieves.”
2002: Following the scandals involving Enron and WorldCom, House Majority Whip Tom DeLay (R-Texas) vows to deprive “corporate kingpins of their ill-gotten gains.” “We intend to pursue the yacht.”
2003: DeLay offers tickets to a yacht cruise to donors for a whopping $500,000.
2005: Ellison refutes reports that he gave the go-ahead to have his newest yacht, the 454-foot Rising Sun, extended to surpass the recently unveiled 414-foot Octopus by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen.
Rep. Duke Cunningham (R-Calif.) entered a guilty plea to federal bribery charges after it was discovered that he was living rent-free on a defense contractor’s yacht, the Duke-Stir, which was moored in Washington, DC.
The world’s longest yacht is Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum’s 531-foot Dubai, which eclipses Prince Abdulaziz’s vessel.
In 2006, media mogul Barry Diller unveiled the 305-foot Eos, the longest sailing yacht in the world, with a 9-foot-tall sculpture of his wife, Diane von Furstenberg, on its prow.
2007 saw the opening of Diller’s corporate headquarters in Manhattan, housed in a structure designed by Frank Gehry and compared to a sailboat. It’s located across the street from Eos’s tie-up.
2008: While on vacation with his family in Greece, George Osborne, the second-ranking official in the UK Conservative Party, unwinds on the yacht owned by Russian aluminum tycoon Oleg Deripaska. In a statement, he refutes the charge that he solicited money, saying that they conversed about “Russian history” while sipping tea.
2009: Tiger Woods retreats to a 155-foot yacht named Privacy as his marriage implodes.
2010: Eclipse, Abramovich’s new vessel, overtakes Dubai to become the longest yacht in the world. The 533-foot craft has lasers to fend off photographers, anti-missile systems, and a submarine.
2011: In an abortive lawsuit alleging that he was owed $5 billion by Abramovich from the sale of Sibneft, Berezovsky, who was exiled, asserts that he assisted Putin in buying the yacht Olympia. Five years later, when the BBC presents a corroborating story from another Russian businessman, Abramovich’s attorneys deny the claim, calling it “a rehash of speculation and rumors.”
2012: Amid criticism for keeping investment funds in the Cayman Islands, GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney extends an invitation to supporters to a party on Cracker Bay. The founder of The Villages retirement community owns the ship, which is flying the flag of the Cayman Islands.
2013: The 593-foot Azzam is launched by UAE leader Khalifa bin Zayed al Nahyan, surpassing the Eclipse.
2014: According to the Wall Street Journal, Ellison hired a person to follow in a smaller boat “to retrieve balls that go overboard” and installed basketball hoops on “at least two of his yachts.”
2016: 14,000 square feet of coral are destroyed when Allen’s Tatoosh drags its anchor through a protected area in the Cayman Islands.
2017: Oprah, Tom Hanks, and Bruce Springsteen join Barack and Michelle Obama as they retreat to the South Pacific on David Geffen’s yacht after leaving office.
For a month, Eugene Shvidler, business partner, anchors his 370-foot yacht Le Grand Bleu in New York Harbor, obstructing views of the Statue of Liberty.
Speaking at the national Boy Scout Jamboree, Trump shares a story that is largely taken to refer to sex parties held on a yacht owned by the Levittown suburb developer. He said, “I’m not going to tell you what he did because you’re Boy Scouts.” “But you are aware of life.”
On the same day that he votes to lower yacht taxes, Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-Fla.) purchases a yacht.
2018: Following a collapse on a yacht trip with his fourth wife, Jerry Hall, Rupert Murdoch is airlifted to UCLA. As Vanity Fair is informed by a source, “He kept almost dying.”
The marina owned by a billionaire donor is designated as a special opportunity zone against poverty by the Republican governor of Florida Rick Scott.
Betsy DeVos, the billionaire and secretary of education under the Trump administration, owns the superyacht Seaquest, which was untied and crashed into a dock on Lake Erie.
The Wolf of Wall Street’s financier, businessman Jho Low, is charged with participating in a $4.5 billion plot to embezzle state development funds from Malaysia and using some of the proceeds to buy a $250 million yacht.
2019: Actress Lori Loughlin is detained in connection with a bribery scheme for college entrance. Olivia Jade, her daughter and a student at USC, is on vacation in the Bahamas, aboard a yacht owned by USC Board of Trustees chair Rick Caruso.
Six years after Jay-Z rented out the vessel for Beyoncé’s 32nd birthday, the US government auctioned off businessman Kolawole Aluko’s Galactica Star in response to an investigation into corruption in the Nigerian oil industry. A former division of Enron attempts to seize some of the money.
Clarence Thomas, accompanied by billionaire Harlan Crow on Michaela Rose, the conservative megadonor, visits a Komodo dragon preserve in Indonesia.
According to ArtNet, a purported $450 million da Vinci that was meant to be in an Abu Dhabi museum was reportedly seen hanging in Mohammed bin Salman’s private yacht, Serene. kylie Jenner celebrates her 22nd birthday on Low’s yacht, which is currently being rented out.