Sunday, February 04, 2007

The Billionaire Yachts

I’m lucky to get a chance to visit some of the places frequented by billionaires and I’m an unabashed fan of their opulent toys.

My research on billionaires and economic demographics indicates that 1 out of 1,000 Americans is a millionaire now, and the USA boasts over 360 super-rich billionaires. Check out Billionaire Magazine, a rag for millionaires who want to live like billionaires.

The typical billionaire yacht looks like the one below, a 150 foot-long, super-sleek ship costing between $25m to $100m:

Opulence feeds the American Dream

I disagree with the attitude about “robber barons”, and those who chide the wealthy for their success. It’s the raw essence of the American Dream, proof positive that hard work and innovation can be rewarded handsomely. It makes America look good when an orphan like Larry Ellison can make billions of dollars and whether or not the average American wishes to reach for the stars, it’s comforting to know that the opportunity is there.

Rent a Yacht!

If you want to be a billionaire for the week, consider this company that can rent you a mega yacht. You can even rent the Onassis Yacht (The Christina O), but renting a yacht does not have to break the bank. A more modest 80-foot yacht can be rented at prices starting at $30k per week, but too bad if every passenger kicks in $5k.

The Billionaire Yachts

Most billionaires have smaller yachts, small enough to dock at the rich enclaves, and most of the most opulent yachts I’ve seen are between 100-300 feet long, and have a crew of over a dozen people to maintain it. (It’s interesting to walk by them at night because the crew parties, and they light-up the interiors so that you can see behind the smoked glass!

I was really mad at myself last week because I walked right past the Rising Sun, Larry Ellison’s 452 foot-long yacht which cost $270,000,000.00. We were on a cruise, stopping at Charlotte Amalie (Virgins Islands), and the Rising Sun was docked there, right next to the cruise liners. At 450 feet long, the Rising Sun is too big for the other billionaire posts (Turtle Cove, St. Croix), and it’s half as long as the giant cruise ships that hold 4,000 passengers!

The Rising Sun does not have the “gee whiz” jaw-dropping lines and contours of other billionaire yachts,

Ellison's Rising Sun - World's largest Yacht

You can see other photos of the Rising Sun Yacht here.

We were just pulling out of port when John Garmany told us that he had seen the elusive monster yacht, and wondered aloud if Larry Ellison might have been that bearded fellow that we saw in line at Burger King.

People in the Caribbean love to gossip, and whenever a billionaire yacht docks or anchors nearby, the news travels across the island with astounding speed. But almost always, the billionaire has already departed and they have a very specific protocol for remaining anonymous and hidden. I know a fellow who books rooms at St. Croix and Parrot Cay, and they do a pre-check-in background check on every guest, lest a Paparazzi scum tries to book one of their $8k per night rooms!

I know a border control officer whose greatest highlight was processing the world’s richest man (Bill Gates) into his country. As he tells the story, Gates’ private jet arrived on a lesser island, with a deserted airport and a helicopter waiting. This officer was amazed with Gates friendliness, and he told how the world’s richest man took the time to give him a private tour of his private jet before being whisked-off to Paul Allens Octopus, a mega-yacht waiting offshore, only 413 feet long, but with a useful heliport:

Microsoft's Paul Allen's Yacht

I remain an unabashed fan of the super wealthy toys and it’s great that the American dream is alive and well, where anyone, regardless of circumstances, can become super wealthy. It’s the American Way . . . .