Special Report: Super Yachts
As a way of measuring the global economy, this has got to be the coolest. From Abramovich’s Eclipse to a simple $250,000 a week charter, Kipp looks at the industry.
August 8, 2010 12:36 by Liz Peek
The vessel is said to contain a missile defense system, a submarine, bullet-proof glass, swimming pools and hot tubs (of course), not one but two helipads (handy for large parties), gazillions of flat-screen TVs, 600 doors, and – my favorite – an “anti-paparazzi laser shield.” The shield can apparently detect and deflect the kinds of light impulses that stem from an intrusive camera. No yacht should be without one. The truth is, no one really knows what is aboard the Eclipse; the level of secrecy surrounding the project makes the Stealth Bomber look like one of those planes towing advertisements above overcrowded beaches. Recent press accounts that the owner has gotten into a row with the builder over whether the reptile and leopard skins in the massage room were ethically sourced may or may not be true.
It is remarkable, perhaps, that the super-yacht industry is already recovering. After all, even our wealthiest global citizens took a beating during the financial crisis, and other sectors, such as fine jewelry, are still struggling. And yet the signs are unmistakable. Miriam Cain of the British broker Camper and Nicholson says that industry-wide there were 33 sales of existing yachts in April, up from 24 in March, for a rise of 65 percent. Sales were up 36 percent from a year ago, based on asking prices. Demand, she says, is particularly strong for the cream of the crop vessels – those made in Italy or Northern Europe. Buyers are Americans or English, as well as Asian and Middle Eastern. Kenny Wooten, the American editor of the Yacht Report, says orders tend to pick up when the Dow Jones Industrial Average moves above 10,000.
One would think that there is no more discretionary purchase than a yacht. On the other hand, just a couple of years ago, those craving the ultimate status symbol were stymied by the flood of purchasing, which led to long waits and rising prices for new craft. According to Boat International, between 2005 and 2007, some 250 yachts measuring above 40 meters were delivered, up from a more normal 30-40 boats per year. Imagine wanting to spend hundreds of millions on a new toy and having to stand in line – Xbox fanciers had it easy by comparison.