Poor Russian billionaire - world's largest yacht 'out in the cold'
by Lee Mylchreest on 24 Aug 2011
Poor Roman Abravomich has nowhere to berth his yacht. The Russian billionaire, whose yacht Eclipse is the largest in the world, cannot fit his yacht into Europe's biggest yachting harbour of Antibes in the French Riviera - because a richer man has taken the only spot big enough.
Antibes beach with Eclipse SW
Saudi Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal Alsaud - whose own yacht Kingdom KR5 is a mere 265ft long - took the coveted mooring in ‘Millionaire’s Quay’ in Antibes, in the French Riviera.
Prince Al-Waleed is the world’s 26th richest man with $19.6billion, according to Forbes magazine, while Mr Abramovich, the flamboyant owner of the Chelsea Football Club in the UK, is only 53rd with a fortune of $13.4billion.
Abramovich arrived at Antibes, where he has a villa, with his girlfriend Dasha Zhukova, expecting to berth his yacht, but the last space in Europe’s biggest yachting harbour simply wasn’t big enough for the two superyachts.
So the Chelsea FC owner was left with little option but to drop anchor several hundred feet out at sea - and then travel to his villa on the shore by motorboat.
Mr Abramovich’s crew had pleaded to be allowed to moor in the harbour, but were told it would be impossible to ‘squeeze Eclipse in’ as it was ‘far too big’.
‘Mr Abramovich has a villa in the town, and is, of course, always welcome to disembark with his family, but with a yacht this size it was not possible,’ a source at the port said yesterday, ‘Instead Eclipse had to be sailed out to sea and left there.’
Mr Abramovich, 41, who has six children with his first wife Irina and girlfriend Daria Zhukova, often uses his fleet of luxury boats to ferry his family up and down the Mediterranean.
But none has ever compared to Eclipse, which has two swimming pools, two helicopter pads, a dedicated disco hall, around 30 cabins, a mini-submarine, and even a missile defence system.
It also has armour-plating around Abramovich’s master suite, bullet-proof windows and a laser system designed to dazzle long-lens photographers.
When it was ordered the initial cost was estimated at around £330million, but by the time Mr Abramovich took delivery last year it was spiralling towards the £1billion mark because of the extra luxury fittings and security measures.
Prince Al-Waleed’s vessel, though smaller, has a fascinating history of its own. The boat, which can carry 22 passengers and 31 crew, was built in 1980 and bought by Saudi billionaire, Adnan Khashoggi under the name Nabila. It featured in the 1983 James Bond film Never Say Never Again – as ‘The Flying Saucer’ – owned by villain Maximilian Largo. Its other owners have included Donald Trump, who named it the Trump Princess.
Prince Al-Waleed bought the yacht in 1991, and renamed it Kingdom 5KR after his investment company Kingdom Holdings, his lucky number 5 and the initials of two of his children.
Mr Abramovich had applied to Antibes council three years ago to build his own pontoon at the villa, but the plans were rejected.
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