Superyachts on steroids: Sales of ‘floating palaces’ DOUBLE to £2.4 billion a year… and here are the top 15 at the crest of the wave
- Business tycoons, princes and movie moguls rule the waves in this sumptuous set of spectacular sea cruisers
- The luxury boats have their own basketball courts, wine cellars, cinemas, helicopters, submarines and discos
- Sales of superyachts have more than doubled in five years – up from 194 in 2010 to 412 at the end of 2014
- Boom mirrors a doubling of the number of billionaires around the globe, from 793 in 2009 to 1,645 in 2014
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If you’re only a millionaire, don’t bother getting your wallet out.
Figures have just been released which show that sales of superyachts have more than doubled in five years – up from 194 in 2010 to 412 at the end of last year.
Just as those numbers have been rocketing, so the potential pool of buyers has been on the increase. Figures from Forbes show the number of US dollar billionaires in the world has also grown by more than 100 per cent – from 793 in 2009, to 1,645 in 2014.
Depressingly for the rest of us even more superyachts are in the pipeline, including the Triple Deuce, which will reportedly be the first with a billion pound price tag.
The £390 million Azzam superyacht – owned by the president of the UAE – leaves the yard on its maiden voyage in 2013
The graph on the left shows how superyacht sales have risen dramatically since 2009, in line with a doubling of the number of dollar billionaires. The chart on the right shows how Roman Abramovich’s Eclipse superyacht is by some distance the most expensive in the world at $1.1 billion – despite the Russian oligarch and Chelsea FC owner being far from the wealthiest owner on the list
At that price it will be the most expensive private yacht ever built, costing more than the annual GDP of Western Sahara, the British Virgin Islands, and Micronesia.
It will reportedly be 222 metres long, which is more than 40 meters longer than the world’s current biggest superyacht, Azzam.
It makes some of the floating palaces on the list of the world’s top 15 private yachts compiled by Boatshop24.com seem like veritable bargains.
But then you still have to consider the ‘small’ matter of the running costs.
Rob Anderson, director of Boatshop24.com, explained: ‘As well as forking out hundreds of millions of dollars to buy a superyacht in the first place, don’t forget that the annual running costs of a boat this size are phenomenal – well over $20 to $25 million a year – and hundreds of people are employed to maintain and run them.
‘Only the top 0.01% of humans have that kind of wealth, so it’s fascinating to get a glimpse of who they are and what they do.’
Yes that’s £12 million to £16 million a year in running costs alone.
Though Benjamin Maltby, an English barrister and Director of consultants Matrix Lloyd, points out that some of the lower end superyachts do repay their owners to an extent through being chartered.
But unless it is roughly three times the length of a London bus you aren’t on one.
‘Superyachts are yachts longer than 24 metres,’ Mr Maltby said. ‘Above this size certain rules and regulations apply, crew must be employed, and the whole adventure becomes much more exclusive.
‘The good news is that charter income can contribute significantly towards running costs. They can take years to build, but buying an existing vessel gives immediate use, and a subsequent refit can soon provide individuality and a box-fresh feel.’
Using figures on superyacht sales from Boat International Market Intelligence and the 2014 Credit Suisse Global Wealth Databook they also revealed that no British billionaire has made it into the most exclusive of private clubs.
In fact a breakdown of the world’s top 15 superyacht owners shows that seven are from the Middle East, four from Eastern Europe, and three from the United States – with American entertainment mogul David Geffen owning two of the top 15.
The UK can only lay secondary bragging rights thanks to two of those owners living here and having interests in some of our biggest football clubs – Chelsea’s owner Roman Abramovich, and Arsenal shareholder Alisher Usmanov.
Altogether in 2014, £2.4 billion (US$3.71 billion) was spent on superyachts.
Most are constructed in Germany, with boat building giants Lurssen and Blohm and Voss dominating the market.
British design teams are, however, responsible for many of the interiors and exteriors. Terence Disdale Design, of Richmond, South West London, is responsible for the interior of Abromovich’s giant Eclipse, and also music mogul David Geffen’s Pelorus. Terence has no formal training in the field yet is one of the world’s most sought after yacht designers.
Tim Heywood, who was part of the famously coined ‘Chelsea University,’ otherwise known as the studio of the late Jon Bannenburg, along with Terence, designed the exterior of Pelorus, and also that of Alisher Usmanov’s Dilbar, and finally the Al Mirqab, owned by the former Prime Minister of Qatar.
The 15 most expensive superyachts currently on the seas
15 – OCTOPUS
COST: £130 million. The Octopus is owned by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen and though it is only at number 15, still cost $200 million
Owner: Paul Allen, Microsoft co-founder
- The Octopus is 126m long and was built by world famous superyacht makers Lürssen in Germany in 2003
- Owner Paul Allen, who co-founded software giant Microsoft with Bill Gates, recently used the yacht’s submarine to find the wreck of the Japanese Navy’s battleship Musashi, which had l
ain undiscovered on the floor of the Sibuyan Sea for the past 70 years after it was sunk by the US Navy in 1944
- When not on a mission to find long lost warships, the Ocotpus can accommodate up to 26 guests in palatial comfort, and also has room for 57 crew
- Luxury features include a glass bottomed swimming pool, a cinema, music recording studio and a hangar for two helicopters
- Its interior was designed by Jonathan Quinn Barnett and the Octopus was last refitted in 2008
- It is one of the slower superyachts in the list, with a cruising speed of 17 knots and a top speed of 20
- It has a range of 8000 nautical miles on an 850,000-litre fuel tank
14 – RISING SUN
COST: £130 MILLION. The Rising Sun was designed by Jon Bannenberg and built in 2004. Its owner David Geffen bought it in 2010
Owner: David Geffen, entertainment mogul
- David Geffen occupies the unique position of owning not one, but two superyachts in the top 15
- In this instance it is the 138-metre long Rising Sun, which he acquired from Lurssen Yachts in 2010 for £130 million
- The DreamWorks founder went closer to home to find a designer, in the form of San Francisco’s Seccombe Design
- It can accommodate 16 guests and up to 45 crew
- Features include 82 rooms on five levels, with a reported 8,000 square metre living area
- There is also a basketball court on the main deck, a cinema with giant plasma screen, extensive wine cellar, swimming pool and jacuzzi
- It was designed by Jon Bannenberg and built in 2004 by Lürssen for Larry Ellison, CEO of Oracle Corporation, and last refitted in 2007
- Geffen bought a half share of the yacht from Ellison in 2006, and took total ownership in 2010
- It is capable of doing 28 knots flat out, with a cruising speed of 26 knots
13 – SEVEN SEAS
COST: £130 million. The superyacht Seven Seas was bought by Jaws director Steven Spielberg in 2010. At 86 metres it is relatively short
Owner: Steven Spielberg (right), film director
- Seven Seas, built by the Dutch firm Oceanco, was purchased by the legendary Hollywood director Steven Spielberg for £130 million in 2010
- It measures a relatively conservative 86 metres in length and can accommodate up to 12 guests with a maximum of 23 crew members
- Features include ‘at anchor stabilisers’ to make the boat more comfortable when docked in choppy waters, one master suite, two VIP suites, plus two double guest cabins, and a twin cabin
- A helipad, entertaining area, and cinema are also included
- Two years ago the director, who was raised in the desert, announced that he wouldn’t be seen in a while as he embarked on a 30,000 mile voyage
- It can do
20 knots flat out, with a cruising speed of 15 knots.
- The yacht has a range of 5000 nautical miles
- Hollywood titan Spielberg has directed classics including Jaws, E.T., Schindler’s List, Jurassic Park, the Indiana Jones franchise and Saving Private Ryan
12 – LADY MOURA
COST: £136 million. The Lady Moura is one of the most opulent superyachts, if not the biggest. Its owner is billionaire Nasser al-Rashid
Owner: Nasser al-Rashid, Saudi Arabian businessman
- Lady Moura is only the 27th largest superyacht in the world, but what it lacks in size it makes up for in elegance
- Owner by engineering tycoon Nasser al-Rashid, it is 105 metres long and cost £136 million when it was sold by Blohm & Voss back in 1990
- It has seven decks and an indoor swimming pool which can be transformed to an outdoor deck thanks to a roof which slides open
- It had to be sent back for repairs after it took on water and nearly ran aground during the Cannes Film festival back in 2007
- It is usually moored in Monaco and has its name carved on the starboard and stern in 24 carat gold
- During the summer season it can be seen in the south of France, and frequently travels between Antibes and Monaco
- Lady Moura is capable of 22 knots flat out, with a cruising speed of 20 knots
- Saudi Arabian Mr al-Rashid founded Rashid Engineering in 1975, which oversees major government construction projects
11 – AL MIRQAB
COST: £161 MILLION. The Al Mirqab was built in 2008 and at 133 metres, is known as one of the longest and most beautiful superyachts
Owner: Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al Thani, former prime minister of Qatar
- The Al Mirqab cost its owner Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al Thani, the former prime minister of Qatar, £161 million
- The source was another German yacht builder, Peters Schiffbau
- Tim Heywood and Andrew Winch Designs, both UK based, were responsible or the exterior and interior
- The yacht can accomodate 30 guests in 10 guest suites and two VIP suites, plus a maximum of 60 crew
- Amenities include outside bars, a cinema, pool, and jacuzzi.
- It is 133 metres long
- The yacht has a top speed of 23 knots, and a cruising speed of 21 knots
- Like the Seven Seas it also has stabilisers which increase onboard comfort when the boat is at anchor and on rough waters
- Its owner was prime minister of Qatar from 2007 to 2013
- Mr Al Thani He has stakes in Qatar Airways and Harrods and is a partner in Guernsey-based Project Grande, the developer of the opulent One Hyde Park apartment complex in London
10 – DILBAR
COST: £170 million. Major Arsenal shareholder and Uzebek-born businessman Alisher Usmanov has owned the Dilbar since 2008
Owner: Alisher Usmanov, Russian oligarch
- Alisher Usmanov’s Dilbar, named after his mother, is only the 24th largest yacht in the world, but occupies tenth place in the list
- He spent £170 million on this floating palace back in 2008
- At 110 metres long it features a steel hull and aluminium superstructure and state-of-the-art stabilisation system to minimise the roll effect of being at sea
- British yacht designer Tim Heywood is responsible for the exterior while Paris-based designer Albert Pinto worked on the interior
- It can sleep up to 20 passengers and 47 crew, and comes complete with a swimming pool and helipad
- This superyacht, unlike many others in the list, is sometimes available for charter
- It can do 21 knots flat out, and has an 18 knot cruising speed.
- It was last refitted in 2009
- Usmanov is thought to be Russia’s richest man, with a fortune estimated at $14.7 billion, and the world’s 58th richest person
9 – PELORUS
COST: £195 MILLION. The Pelorus is David Geffen’s second entry in the top 15. He bought it in 2011 and also owns the Rising Sun
Owner: David Geffen, music mogul
- The Pelorus, in Latin ‘keeping on course,’ was built by Lurssen in 2003 – making it one of the oldest yachts in the top 15
- Terence Drisdale and Tim Heywood, both British, designed the interior and exterior respectively
- The yacht can reach speeds of 20 knots flat out and has a cruising speed of 18 knots
- Its features include a helicopter pad, zero-speed stabilisers, swimming pool, jet skis, and jacuzzi
- Geffen bought it in 2011 from Roman Abromovich’s wife Irina, who had been given the boat as part of her divorce settlement
- Her ex had earlier allowed Chelsea captain John Terry and his wife Teri to use it for their honeymoon back in 2007
- Pelorus was refitted in 2007 at the Blohm and Voss shipyard when a second helicopter pad, new paint and zero-speed stabilizers were installed
- The original owner was a Saudi businessman who wanted to extend a 72 metre yacht he already had. Tim Heywood instead proposed building a new 85 metre one, which with extra features became the 115 metre Pelorus
8 – Al Said
COST: £195 million. The Al Said is the fourth largest superyacht at 155 metres but is also quite speedy, capable of 25 knots flat out
Owner: Qaboos bin Said al Said, the Sultan of Oman
- The Al Said is owned by Qaboos bin Said al Said, the Sultan of Oman, and is another product of Lurssen Yachts
- At 155 metres long, it is the fourth largest superyacht in the world
- British innovation is also featured here in the form of the exterior design by Redman Whiteley Dixon (RWD), of Hampshire, while the interior came from Monaco’s Espen Oeino
- The yacht, which was given the project name Sunflower during its secret construction, can sleep a colossal 70 guests and 154 crew
- Features include a concert hall which can easily house a 50-piece orchestra, and the now obligatory helipad
- The Al Said has a top speed of 25 knots, and a cruising speed of 22 knots
- Its owner Qaboos is an avid fan and promoter of classical music and has his own 120-member orchestra, which has a strong reputation in the Middle East
COST: £195 MILLION. The prime minister and vice president of the United Arab Emirates enjoys cruising around in this monster
Owner: Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, vice president and prime minister of the United Arab Emirates
- The Dubai is the third largest superyacht in the world, and the third most expensive at £195 million
- It is owned by the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, who is vice president and prime minister of the United Arab Emirates
- The Dubai is 162 metres in length
- It was built in 2006 and the sleek interior is the work of the renowned British designer Andrew Winch
- It was originally commissioned by Prince Jefri of Brunei, but ended up being passed to the Dubai government
- Its notable features include seven decks, a barbecue area, a mosaic swimming pool, cinema, disco, landing area for a Blackhawk helicopter, five VIP suites and a 21.3 metre wide atrium
- It also has a garage for its submarine and a vast array of water toys
- The Dubai has an impressive top speed of Dubai has a displacement of 9,150 tonnes, an impressive top speed of 26 knots, and a nautical range of 8,500 miles
COST: £207 MILLION. The Radiant cruises in at number six on the list. It was first built for the late Russian oligarch Boris Berezovsky
Owner: Abdulla Al Futtaim, UAE businessman
- In 2009 Lurssen Yachts also produced the 110 metre Radiant – sister ship to Alisher Usmanov’s Dilbar, which is at number 10 on this list
- It has an exterior designed by Tim Heywood
- The Radiant was originally built for the late British-based Russian oligarch Boris Berezovsky
- UAE businessman Abdulla Al Futtaim bought it from Berezovsky in 2010
- Its features include a helicopter landing pad, jacuzzi, swimming deck, cinema, plus accommodation for up to 20 people
- It also has the ‘zero-speed stabilisers’ which increase onboard comfort, particularly in rough waters
- Its owner runs the Al Futtaim Group, a Dubai based conglomerate which has interests in the retail, automotive, technology and real estate sectors
- The group owns Mall of the Emirates in Dubai, a 223,000 square metre outlet with more than 500 shops
COST: £214 million. The experience of cruising on the Serene is probably just that, given its incredible array of luxury features
Owner: Yuri Sheffler, Russian vodka magnate
- Owned by Russian tycoon Yuri Sheffler, The Serene is 134 metres in length, and cost £214 million
- Again there is a British influence, with Reymond Langton Design being responsible for the interior
- Features include seven decks, a hangar, two helicopter landing pads, a large swimming pool and a submarine
- One of its special aspects is an LED-lit outdoor spa
- It can sleep up to 24 guests in 15 staterooms, including a master suite, one VIP stateroom, seven double cabins and three twin cabins.
- The Serene can also carry up to 52 crew
- Bill Gates reportedly chartered the yacht for US$5 million dollars a week
- You should never be short of something to drink on board, as its owner is Yuri Scheffler, the vodka-and-spirits magnate behind the Stolichnaya brand
- Scheffler caused a stir in New York when he moored The Serene in midtown Manhattan in March 2014
COST: £252 MILLION. Certainly the most striking on the list, ‘A’ is the second of three Russian-owned superyachts to make the top 15
Owner: Andrey Melnichenko, Russian banking and steel billionaire
- The futuristic superyacht ‘A’ was built in 2008 by Blohm & Voss and features and exterior and interior design by the uber trendy French designer Philippe Starck
- The amazing look comes from an upside down steel hull and aluminium superstructure
- It measures 119 metres long and was four years in the making
- Features include three current creating swimming pools, bomb proof glass, and rotating beds
- The bath knobs alone cost £25,000 each, and there are 44 motion detect security cameras
- ‘A’ can accommodate 14 guests in one owner’s suite and six guest suites
- It also has room for up to 37 crew members
- Powered by twin 6035bhp diesel engines, ‘A’ can reach up to 23 knots and has a range of 4250 nautical miles
- As well as a penthouse in Manhattan, owner Andrey Melnichenko owns Harewood Estate in Ascot, Surrey
COST: £337 million. Topaz owner Mansour bin Zayed al Nahyan clearly doesn’t just spend his riches on Manchester City
Owner: Mansour bin Zayed al Nahyan, UAE’s deputy prime minister and Manchester City FC owner
- Third in the list of the world’s most expensive superyachts is The Topaz, at £337 million
- It is owned by the UAE’s deputy prime minister Mansour bin Zayed al Nahyan
- Again it is a product of the German shipyards of Lurssen in Bremen, though there are also significant British contributions, with Tim Heywood designing the exterior, and Terence Disdale the interior
- This superyacht, at 147 metres long, was launched in 2012 and has an aluminium superstructure which consists of eight floors
- Onboard features include zero speed stablisers, on deck jacuzzis, a swimming platform, and double helipad
- The wealthiest of all the superyacht owners on this list, Sheikh Mansour is worth an estimated $20 billion
- As well as owning Manchester City FC, he is the half brother of the current president of UAE, Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan – who also happens to own one of only two superyachts which cost more to build than The Topaz
COST: £390 million. The vast Azzam is the longest superyacht in the world at an incredible 180 metres
Owner: Khalifa bin Zayed al Nahyan, President of the United Arab Emirates
- The Azzam cost £390 million to build and fit out, and stretches beyond any other superyacht in the world in length
- It was launched from the Bremen-Vegesack shipyard of Lurssen Yachts in 2013 and took more than three years to build
- It features a 29 metre long open plan main cabin, two helipads, a pair of swimming pools, cinema, mini submarine, bullet proof glass, and armor plated lining in the master bedroom, and has its own missile defence system
- Despite its gargantuan size it can reach 30 knots flat out, assisted by diesel and gas engines which combines to provide 94,000bhp
- Longer than 12 double decker buses end-to-end, it requires a crew of 50 to operate
- Its owner Khalifa bin Zayed al Nahyan, President of the United Arab Emirates, does not spend all of his vast $18 billion fortune on yachts – he is also a prominent philanthropist, having reportedly donated more than $460 million to humanitarian projects
COST: £710 MILLION. And the winner, by some way, is Eclipse: a $1.1 billion monster owned by Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich
Owner: Roman Abramovich, Russian oligarch and businessman
- At 163.5 metres The Eclipse is one and a half football pitches in lenght, and Roman Abromovich was so keen to have it he spent
a sizeable portion of his estimated £8 billion fortune on it
- It was built for the Chelsea FC owner by Hamburg’s Blohm & Voss between 2010 and 2011 and boasts a three person leisure submarine, three helicopter pads, and its own missile defence system
- Only the Azzam, owned by the President of the UAE, is bigger
- Terence Disdale Design, who leads a team of 15, is responsible for the interior
- It is thought to be able to accommodate 36 guests in 18 cabins and also cater for a staggering 70 crew members
- Eclipse was launched in June 2009 and delivered to Abramovich in December 2010
- He made his fortune from humble beginnings as a street-trader and then as a mechanic at a local factory, and was at one time a business associate of Boris Berezovsky for whom The Radiant superyacht, at number six, was originally built
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