Amazon founder turned rocket-man Jeff Bezos wants to prove that, with enough money, you really can move mountains—or at least, in this case, cherished bridges. That’s according to local reports cited by Dutch News and Boat International which claim the city of Rotterdam will temporarily disable its historic Koningshaven bridge so a luxury superyacht rumored to have been commissioned by Bezos can make its way out to sea.
The main issue here is the boat is just too damn big. Developed by Dutch custom yacht builder Oceanco, the ship comes out to an estimated 127 meters (417 feet) in length. When completed, the colossus will become the world’s largest sailing yacht, according to Boat international. Oceanco reportedly approached Rotterdam’s municipality and requested the bridges dismantling because its 40-meter clearance isn’t tall enough to accommodate the yacht’s three gargantuan masts. Oceanco and Bezos have reportedly offered to fund the dismantling themselves.
The hefty bridge meanwhile, a national monument first built in 1927, is known locally as “De Hef,” according to Dutch News. De Hef was reportedly badly damaged during the bombing of Rotterdam in War War II and has since undergone multiple renovations, most recently in 2017. The most recent dismantling was supposed to mark the last time the bridge would be disabled for the foreseeable future, but the Dutch Council reportedly made an exception for the world’s richest man.
Needless to say, not everyone in Rotterdam is thrilled about the idea of manipulating a nearly century-old local landmark at a billionaire’s behest despite claims from some that the project may add temporary jobs. “Employment is important, but there are limits to what you can and may do to our heritage,” Ton Wesselink, a member of the Rotterdam Historical Society said according to the NL Times.
Rumors of the Amazon founder’s involvement with the boat started with Brad Stone’s 2021 book about the founder called Amazon Unbound, first excerpted in Bloomberg Businessweek. In addition to the 127-meter behemoth, Stone claimed Bezos also commissioned a smaller “support yacht,” that supposedly comes equipped with its own helipad. In related mindless spending efforts, Bezos has also reportedly invested $42 million dollars into a 500-foot tall mechanical clock capable of running for 10 thousand years.
But Bezos isn’t the only billionaire busting out cash for luxury yachts. While the global economies crawled back from a year of lockdowns and millions of Americans struggled to make due on government relief efforts, yacht sales were booming. Superyachts had a banner year in 2021, with a total of 887 sold worldwide according to a report from maritime data firm VesselsValue, viewed by Bloomberg. That marks a 77% increase in sales from a year prior and more than double the yachts sold in 2019.
According to that same report, an unprecedented pandemic era wealth gain among the world’s richest cohort and renewed demand for semi-isolated activities were partly the reason for the surge in yacht sales. Lonely billionaires needed something to spend all that new capital on.
Now though, it appears all that yacht demand has outpaced supply. Recent supply chain disruptions tacked on alongside the ships’ inherently long build times, means the hefty prices may swell even larger, Bloomberg notes.