Billionaire Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen no longer owns one of the world's 10 largest yachts thanks to the just-launched Serene (above) from Fincantieri. At just under 440 ft. Serene is the largest yacht ever built in Italy, and enters the list of the world's largest yachts at No. 9, according to Camper & Nicholsons – just behind the floating brothel Savarona. That knocks Allen's famed 414-ft. Octopus out of the top 10 altogether (No. 1 of course is still, by a mere 18 inches, Roman Abramovich's Eclipse). The billionaire buyer of Serene is unknown. Designed by Espen Oeino, the Serene, which took four years to complete, has seven decks, a tender hangar and two helipads. The high-tech megayacht features a large seawater swimming pool and a submarine with a diving depth of up to 100 metres. The 4,500 square meter interior boasts super-luxe accommodations and entertaining spaces designed by Pascale Reymond of London's Reymond Langton Design.
In an effort to boost the flagging superyacht market, manufacturers are fitting them out with increasingly complex, military-grade security systems aimed at assuaging the fears of paranoid billionaires. Bloomberg News reports from the Monaco Yacht Show that security systems similar to the ones on Roman Abramovich's enormous Eclipse are now standard issue for high-end craft. Pascal Wiscour-Conter, chief executive officer of Equisea Yacht Management in Monte Carlo, says that any billionaire buying a superyacht these days shells out an extra $400,000 at least for additional defensive measures, including bulletproof glass and "NATO military technology integrated with NASA satellite tracking to create an invisible offensive security bubble with underwater sonic cannons and surface lasers that evaluate and take out anyone who lays siege to the vessel." Wiscour-Conter notes that the high-tech system "knows the difference between a malicious scuba diver and a curious dolphin, and we transmit all the information to your iPhone four times a day."
Filed under: Wealth
Russian president Dimitri Medvedev gave Yuri Luzhkov his walking papers this week in the wake of a long-simmering feud. The job is unlikely to be maintained in its present form and may be divided into two posts to avoid a repeat of Luzhkov's power concentration.
If the free-spending 43-year-old billionaire does get the job – though we're not sure how he'd have the time given his many other interests, from football clubs to megayachts – it wouldn't be his first foray into politics.
Abramovich served as governor of Chukotka (an impoverished region in the Russian Far East) from 2000 to 2008, and was credited with improved living standards, restoring schools and housing and attracting investment, RAI notes, and he is currently the chairman of the Chukotka Autonomous District Duma.
Filed under: Yachts & Sailing
Roman Abramovich's gigantic high-tech gigayacht Eclipse has been a major headache for German shipyard Blohm + Voss, with the Russian billionaire complaining about everything from the mirrors to the engine vibrations. While the project still stumbles along, as we reported earlier this month it won't even be the world's largest privately owned yacht by the time it's finally finished. Perhaps that's why Blohm + Voss' next big project eschews the ultra-modern in favor of something more appealing than appalling: a 1930s-style superyacht that borrows heavily from the famed firm's 130-year-old archives. At 364 feet, the B+V 111 MY/ Vintage (above) actually qualifies for megayacht status.
In addition to a helipad the exterior spaces offer a swimming pool with glazed side panels and a large beach club aft. The entire 5th deck is devoted to the owner's suite which includes a large bedroom, his and hers bathrooms and dressing areas, a private dining room, gym and lounge. In addition up to 12 guests can be accommodated in four luxury and two VIP guests cabins. An indoor dining area with a lounge connects to an aft deck for al fresco dining and cocktailing. With a crew of 25 seeing to the yacht's diesel-mechanical propulsion system, she's set for a cruising speed of 14.5 knots.
Filed under: Wealth
Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich is building himself an exclusive new $30 million private nightclub underneath his football club's stadium in London to entertain girlfriend Dasha Zhukova's (above) chic friends. Work on the luxuriously appointed space, located below Chelsea's Stamford Bridge stadium with capacity for up to 500 guests, is at an advanced stage and could be complete by December the London Evening Standard reports. The venue, in a space formerly occupied by Purple nightclub which closed in 2007, features a 13-ft. high waterfall that cost $250,000 to install as well as a hydraulically-operated stage for private performances by Abramovich's favorite artists including Gwen Stefani, Amy Winehouse and Kings of Leon. The interior will feature a "gritty industrial design motif" with a lavish green room for performers and private booths with plasma TV screens, the paper reports, noting Abramovich got the idea for the club after touring exclusive night spots in the U.S.
A contractor in Aspen, Colorado has filed a lien against Roman Abramovich, claiming the Russian billionaire stiffed him on work performed on Wildcat Ridge (above), the oligarch's $36 million ranch perched above Snowmass Village. The modern 11-bedroom mansion has a dramatic folded plate roof and a large moss rock wall dividing the east and west wings of the building, and uses geothermal wells to heat the interiors and indoor pool. Vogelman West Associates, a masonry and stone contractor, filed the lien in Pitkin County against Abramovich Roman Trailhead Property Management Inc. after trying to collect on an outstanding $5,000 invoice, the Aspen Daily News reports. Given the relatively paltry amount of the debt, we assume one of Abramovich's minions simply forgot to take care of it; then again, he didn't get rich by writing a lot of checks.
Some people find the very idea of an "eco-friendly superyacht" simply ridiculous. If you're willing to accept that a floating monument to conspicuous consumption can somehow be good for the environment however, you'll probably agree that it should have a decor to match. Hence the growing trend in "guilt-free" luxury furnishings designed to take the edge off all that over-spending. The latest of these is salmon skin leather (above), being touted as an environmentally-friendly, ecologically sound and cruelty-free upholstery suitable for the finest superyacht interiors. The leader in the field is a German company called Nanai, which sources the skins from fish raised on certified organic salmon farms in Ireland.
With an appearance similar to python skin, salmon hide looks convincingly like exotic leather when vegetable-tanned and dyed (and deodorized). It's light and thin, yet durable and resistant to tearing. As the skins form a by-product of the salmon industry, the fish are not specifically bred or killed for the stuff – which might keep eco-crusaders happy if they weren't opposed to salmon farming to begin with. It remains to be seen whether oligarchs like Roman Abramovich will send their superyachts back to have their stingray and alligator upholstery swapped for salmon skin. Cue the cracks about "something fishy" but don't hold your breath.
A well-connected Luxist follower has written in to inform us of the identity of the buyer of the record-shattering $308 million Monaco penthouse (above) we just reported on. The new owner of the world's most expensive apartment we're told is Greek billionaire Constantine Alexander-Goulandris, a close friend and business associate of Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich. According to Wikipedia, the American-born Alexander-Goulandris, 47, who's based in Monaco, is an influential adviser to the Saudi royal family and the emirs of Qatar and Kuwait, as well as the leaders of the UAE and many of the world's largest oil companies.
In addition to Abramovich he's also close to Russian prime minister Vladimir Putin. Though not on Forbes' list of the world's richest people, he's said to be worth an estimated $15 billion thanks to investments in petroleum and energy shipping and real estate, including the Olympic Tower building in NYC. In addition to Monaco Alexander-Goulandris reportedly maintains residences in Paris, London, Antibes, New York and Hawaii. He also owns one of the largest yachts in the world, the Dubai-registered, 279-ft. Delma, and jets around on a Boeing 767 and two Gulfstream G550s.
UPDATE: The buyer was in fact a member of Dubai's royal family; Alexander-Goulandris acted as an adviser - read more here.
Gallery: $308 Million in Monaco
Just as we predicted in our latest story (dated Aug. 23) on Roman Abramovich's gigayacht Eclipse (above), it won't be the world's largest privately owned yacht for very much longer. Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al-Maktoum is reportedly having his own floating palace, the Dubai, refitted to literally eclipse the Eclipse. As we noted in our previous story, at 531.5 ft. the Dubai is already only 18 inches shorter than the actual length of the Eclipse, which yachting experts Camper & Nicholsons finally pegged at 533 ft. Now the London Sunday Times reports that Sheikh Mohammed is planning to have the Dubai extended by at least two feet, and possibly as much as eight feet, easily beating the Eclipse to recapture the World's Largest title. The UAE's Platinum Yachts, which built the Dubai, is considering updates that could include a black box radar to be mounted jutting forward from under the prow. [continued]
Legendary Italian fashion designer Giorgio Armani has reportedly become the proud owner of one of the world's most beautiful and expensive private islands – Skorpios (above). In closing the deal, said to be worth about $190 million according to reports in the European press, the designer faced stiff competition from rival bidders including Bill Gates, Roman Abramovich and Madonna. Located in the Ionian Sea off the western coast of Greece, the island formerly belonged to famed Greek shipping billionaire Aristotle Onassis and was the site of his wedding to Jackie Kennedy in 1968. It was sold to Armani by his granddaughter and heiress, Athina Onassis Roussel. There is a lavish villa on the island known as the Pink House which Onassis built for Jackie, along with tennis courts and plush gardens, though most of the island remains undeveloped and pristinely beautiful.
It caused quite a kerfuffle when 38-year-old Russian billionaire Andrey Melnichenko's megayacht A (above), designed by Philippe Starck, weighed anchor off San Diego the other day while its owner drove off to check out Hearst Castle. The 390-ft. craft which resembles a sci-fi submarine cost over $300 million to build to the quirky designer's specs at Blohm + Voss, where Roman Abramovich's Eclipse was also constructed. With a crew of 35 (all outfitted in Starck-designed uniforms) to run it, the A's twin diesel's kick down 24,000 hp for a maximum speed of 24 knots, impressive for a ship this size. The interior features $40,000 bath faucets and $60,000 stair banisters.
The all-white, 2,583-sq.-ft. master suite wrapped in bulletproof, 44-milimeter glass is accessed by a silver-plated staircase with a fingerprint scanner at the door. Elsewhere Starck scattered Baccarat crystal tables, alligator skin and Kudu horn chairs, stingray skin upholstered walls and hand-stitched leather paneling. Some of the companies involved in constructing the unique sea beast went bankrupt due to the difficulties in executing Starck's design dictums. Filling the A's gas tanks alone costs $500,000 a pop and running costs come to about $20 million a year. Check out a video of the eye-popping yacht after the jump:
Has Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich been exaggerating the size of his gigayacht Eclipse (above), billed as the world's largest and most expensive privately owned yacht? Judging by Camper & Nicholsons' newly-released Super Yachting Index that would seem to be the case. C&N, the leading international yacht broker established in 1782, lists the world's largest yachts among other data in its much-anticipated report. According to their rigorously fact-checked figures, Abramovich's behemoth built by Blohm + Voss is still the world's largest yacht – but only by a hair. C&N states that it measures only 533 ft., a whopping 24 ft. shorter than the figure in general circulation. That means Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al-Maktoum's Dubai at 531.5 ft., which held the World's Largest title until the Eclipse was constructed, is only 18 inches shorter. And since the Dubai ruler basically owns his own shipyard now – the U.A.E.'s Platinum Yachts, where the Dubai was finished – it wouldn't take much for him to have it refitted with an extra few feet of metal to put Abramovich firmly in his place. We expect he'll see to it straight away – meanwhile, Abramovich should consider changing his yacht's name to something a little more humble, like Obstruction.
The other day we reported that Madonna has borrowed Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich's brand new superyacht, the 377-ft. Luna, while filming the new Duke of WIndsor movie she's directing in the South of France. The yacht is fitted out with two helicopter pads, a covered pool, spa, medical center, hot tub and 40 staff, including butlers and a macrobiotic chef. The middle-aged Material Girl isn't the only celeb cadging a ride on a pal's superyacht this summer, however – everyone from Brad and Angelina to the Beckhams are living it up on the high seas, though some stars are actually paying their way. Here's the full rundown on the famous folk's nautical hijinks:
1. Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie: the world's most famous movie star couple have borrowed Johnny Depp's classic yacht, the 156-ft. Vajoliroja (above), which as we noted in April is available for charter at $130,000 per week, JustLuxe reports. The mahogany paneled craft features accommodations for 10 guests and a crew of 8, a formal dining room, library, plush salon and outdoor seating and eating areas, all decorated in Depp's signature version of Art Deco Paris meets the Orient Express.
2. David Beckham and Victoria Beckham: Posh and Becks have borrowed their pal designer Roberto Cavalli's iridescent 133-ft. yacht, the RC, which features a leopardskin interior, 15 bedrooms, a gym, whirlpool spa and locker full of fur coats for when the weather turns cool. Supposedly Cavalli only allows clothes he designed to be worn onboard.
3. Simon Cowell: The TV star is one of the few celebs footing the bill for his fun, having shelled out a whopping $975,000 per week to charter the 196-ft. Slipstream. The 12-berth yacht boasts sumptuous leather sofas, mirrors above a giant waterbed, a Jacuzzi, an observation lounge with panoramic views, gym, a sky lounge with a retractable roof and a crew of 14 including a private chef.
4. Paris Hilton: The world's biggest party girl is kicking back on Microsoft magnate Paul Allen's 300-ft. pleasure craft the Tatoosh, which as we recently reported has been put up for sale at $160 million. The yacht, which has a pool, hot tub, cinema, basketball court, recording studio, spa, massage room, gym, games room and helicopter pad, comes with a crew of 30. "The best summer of my life," Paris recently tweeted about the trip. "Our yacht is incredible! I'm in heaven on the water. Definitely the biggest and best yacht everywhere we go. Love it! Huge!" [continued]
Gallery: Superstars & Superyachts
Yesterday we reported that a cabal of mega-rich Arab playboys have made London the world's supercar capital this summer, shipping an estimated $80 million worth of eye-popping vehicles to the city while waiting out the heat in their homeland. With all the ultra-luxe vehicles racing around the crowded city, something was bound to go wrong, and it has; two of the fast-living fellows were arrested in Knightsbridge the other day after plowing their $280,000 Lamborghini into four other vehicles, the London Daily Mail reports. Abdulla Saeed Khalfan Al-Dhaheri, 28, and Sultan Khalifa Al-Muhairbi, 35, both from the United Arab Emirates, were taken into custody after their Lamborghini Murcielago smashed into the parked cars, flipping a BMW over completely.
Luckily no one was injured, but Al-Muhairbi was charged with dangerous driving and driving with no insurance and Al-Dhaheri was charged with perverting the course of justice. The men, who are due to appear in court on October 12, are said to have walked away from the pile-up, telling a passerby, "It's all right, we'll pay for the damage." The incident took place in posh Lowndes Square, home to some of the city's wealthiest residents, including Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich. Check out an image gallery of some of the Arab-owned supercars, including Rolls-Royce, Ferrari and Bugatti models, which have been flown to London for the summer from the UAE after the jump.
Dutch shipyard Feadship builds some of the world's most coveted superyachts; in addition to Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich's Ecstesea, the likes of Malcolm Forbes, Paul Allen and King Khalid of Saudi Arabia all commissioned luxurious vessels from them. Now the shipyard has launched its newest, largest and most expensive superyacht ever, the 288-ft. Musashi (above) built for an unnamed billionaire, leading to speculation that one of the boldfaced names on its client roster decided it was time for an upgrade. Our money is on Paul Allen, who recently listed his 303-ft. superyacht Tatoosh for sale at $160 million meaning he's probably in the market for a replacement (he still has the Octopus).
The Musashi's massive steel hull was constructed by Feadship's dedicated hull-building facility in Papendrecht, Netherlands, and was delivered to Makkum for outfitting. Her quadruple MTU 16V 4000 M90 marine diesel engines kick out a combined 14,600 hp, though the shipyard has not released any performance specs. The Musashi's naval architecture and exterior design were created by Feadship's own De Voogt Naval Architects, while the luxe interiors including an enormous master suite were done by the Netherlands' Sinot Yacht Design.