Whilst not fitting the term “Luxury real estate,” in the traditional sense of the word, i.e. on land, the current crop of giga-yachts or mega-yachts certainly fall under my definition of the word. Massive, spectacularly-outfitted floating mansions in fact.
Conspicuous over consumption? Absolutely. Insanely expensive? Oh yes. Most of the final prices are carefully kept secret. Either that, or no one actually knows how much they cost.
Introducing “A” – the most recent member of the giga-yacht club, and to put things in perspective, the fuel tank is 757,000 liters. Diesel fuel costs around €1.40 per liter currently, so it would cost just over €1 million to fill the fuel tank. $1.4 million US just to fill the tank. That amount of fuel will last 15.5 days at cruising speed. So the cost of building the ship becomes a little academic when the running costs are taken into consideration. I am exaggerating slightly as I have no doubt they are not paying retail for the fuel, but you get the idea. Seeing as the owner also owns one of the largest coal companies in the world, I very much doubt the cost of fuel is an issue.
I was lucky enough to see “A” up close and personal recently and she is spectacular. I won’t say I like the design because it is so odd, but spectacular aptly describes her and it certainly grows on you.
You could hear the sound of penises shrinking from as far away as San Remo when “A” dropped anchor in the bay of Cannes recently. You could hear the sound of Billionaire’s accountants calculating the cost of building a more spectacular boat about thirty seconds later.
These photos were taken from a small tender and give an idea of the size of her. Click on any of the photos to see a full size image.
To give an idea of the scale, this is the author (yours truly) doing a little “showboating.”
“A” is 118 meters long, and from whichever angle you see her is perfect, not a poor line in sight. I understand there are three swimming pools aboard, an owner’s suite, 6 guest suites and accommodations for 42 staff, which includes 5 guest’s staff.
I was not fortunate to be invited aboard, so this is from the spec sheet.
Viewed from the stern.
Even these pictures do not really show the scale, and while there are larger mega-yachts around, none quite like this one. She was surrounded by smaller boats come to get a closer look, and all the other mega-yachts in the bay were strangely quiet, or quietly pulling up anchor to move to a less conspicuous part of the coast line – out of sight.
It is difficult to estimate the final cost of “A” but conservatively – 150 million Euros? The owner is Andrey Melnichenko, a Russian energy billionaire and financier. Mr. Melnichenko owns some pretty luxurious real estate on the Cote D’Azur, but I am also hearing a rumour that he is in fact the mystery buyer of La Leapolda. Unconfirmed as yet. She certainly is a beautiful piece of design and engineering, and here are some more photos from all sides.
All of the above photos are copyright – Mark Knowles. If you want to take one and add it to your own website, please just take one and add a link back to this post for the rest.
“A” was built by Blohm & Voss, in Germany, and was previously designated SF-99, then “Sigma,” when the design went over 99 meters. The design was by Phillipe Starck, and has come in for some considerable criticism. You either love her, or hate her. The absence of any protuberances was one of his goals, and as you see from the photos, everything blends perfectly. In Mr. Starck’s words,
We worked for five years to avoid any small details like that which are common in boats… to finally have a boat which looks like the computer rendering. Such a boat is the vision, the dream.
As you can see from the original computer design, he certainly achieved his goal. Hard to tell which is real and which is the rendering.
The technical specifications are certainly impressive, and if you are interested, this is a link to download them:
Mr. Starck himself has an “eclectic” design philosophy, and this video makes interesting viewing.
No one has yet been allowed to take any photographs of the interior, but I understand it is as unusual as the exterior design, and includes some very special teak paneling.
The design detailing includes the tenders. (For those of you without a nautical bent, tenders are the small boats used to ferry the owners from ship to shore, fetch booze and cigars, or whatever else may be needed from the main land etc). In fact the tenders are works of art in their own right. Also designed by Phillipe Starck, there are two aboard, along with a high speed RIB by Pascoe. 11 meters long and built specifically for “A” by Vaudrey Miller in New Zealand. One is an open design, the other with a cabin, or “Limo-style.”
All in all a beautiful boat. Radically different design certainly, and it is rather entertaining to listen to the gossip about the various billionaires who have been planning a competing boat since this one was first announced. No matter what Mr. Starck might say about not caring about the size, it is all about out-doing your peers. Nothing says “I have a bigger one than you do,” like actually having a bigger one, although, in this case, it is just a “better,” one.