Trump's election as president of the United States marked a number of firsts, including the institution of what has historically become the wealthiest cabinet ever in existence in America. The billionaire's effect on politics and policy has become the subject of many international debates, yet his interests in yachting tend to be less talked about but remain no less fascinating when coupled with his administration.
In his former life as a billionaire businessman, Trump not only owned an 86m superyacht as well as a shipyard for a brief period of time, but he also ordered the world's largest yacht, although it was never completed. Meanwhile, US Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, with a net worth estimated at $1,5 billion, and her family have been linked to no less than 13 yachts over the years.
In 1980, the late Saudi businessman and arms dealer, Adnan Khashoggi took delivery of the 86 meter (282 ft) Nabila. Built by Benetti in Italy, she became the 8th largest yacht in the world and appeared in the 1983 James Bond movie, Never Say Never Again.
When Khashoggi, however, ran into financial problems, the Sultan of Brunei took possession of the yacht to cover one of his loans. The Sultan quickly flipped the yacht to Donald Trump for a reported $29 million in 1987. In an interview in 1988, Trump said he received a $1 million discount for agreeing to change the name from Nabila, Khashoggi's daughter.
Khashoggi probably spent $200 million building this yacht, probably the best yacht ever built. I purchased it for a business. I use it for my hotels. I use it for a lot of different charities.
After acquiring Nabila, Trump renamed the yacht to Trump Princess and had it refitted by Holland-based, Amels for a near $10 million according to the LA Times. The H on the helipad was also changed to a T to stand for Trump.
Spread into over 100 separate areas over five decks, Nabila was without a doubt one of the most complex yachts of her time. With luxurious materials including onyx used for her interior, the yacht was also ahead of her time from a technological standpoint. Remote controls were installs next to the bed for shades, room service, and the entertainment center.
Amongst the yacht's main feature was a hair salon with 3 separate chairs, a sauna, a private elevator for the owner, one for guests and one for the crew, a 2.4-meter in diameter spa pool with a waterjet behind bulletproof glass. Whilst still owned by Khashoggi, many arms deals were signed onboard the yacht.
In June 1989, Donald Trump announced that he would build a larger yacht, "something in excess of 400 feet long, closer to 500 feet" as he told Newsday and that he was accepting bids from yacht builders for this project. Amels, then owned by a group of 4 British investors, secured the deal to develop the 128-meter Trump Princess II according to NRC.
In May 1990, it was announced that Trump bought Amels altogether. At a press conference in Makkum in 1990, Jeff Walker, VP of Trump's investment empire, denied that the shipyard was sold due to the previous owner's financial difficulties, which some have said, resulted from Trump canceling the construction of the Trump Princess II.
In September 1990, two months after the acquisition, Trump sold Amels to American businessman, Peter Kutell according to Deseret News due to financial problems. At the same time, the Trump Princess was put up for sale and all work on the Trump Princess II stopped. In 1991, Trump Princess was sold to Prince Al-Waleed for $19 million who renamed the yacht to Kingdom 5KR.
The superstructure for Trump Princess II allegedly remained at the Amels Makkum facility until summer 2001 when it was eventually removed. According to sources familiar with the matter, the superstructure is still parked at the Makkum facility, now owned by Feadship De Vries and reportedly sometimes used as a bike parking space.
Although Trump never came back to yacht ownership, other members of his cabinet remained involved in the space to this day. Betsy DeVos, US Secretary of Education, and her husband have a combined net worth valued at $5,1 billion. Amongst their long list of assets are no less than 10 yachts and reportedly an interest in the shipyard that built them.
Delivered in 2008 by US shipyard, Westport, Seaquest measures 50 meters (162 ft) and was designed by Donald Starkey. Reaching a top speed of 24 knots, she is part of the Westport 164 series. Interestingly, she's also not the only Westport 164 linked to the DeVos family as the 50-meter Legacy is also reportedly owned by the family.
Whereas the actual construction price of this particular Westport is unknown, as is typical with the vast majority of new build yachts, a similar 50-meter Westport sold at an asking price of $29,950,000 in November 2016. It is standard for the final, actual price to be 30-40% lower to the asking price in yachting.
Delivered in 2011, Legacy is a slightly updated version of the Seaquest. According to the media, the DeVos family has a solid preference for Westport yachts, having reportedly owned several of them in the past years. In fact, the family may even have acquired a stake in the US yacht manufacturer according to SYF.
Amongst the Westports linked to the DeVos is a Westport 112 from 2003 and a Westport 130 from 2005. Their fleet also includes an 85ft Pacific Mariner ( a brand owned by Westport) called Sun Quest. Additionally, an 80ft Hatteras called Kitsune can also be found in their fleet according to the media.
Although the DeVos fleet may already sound expansive as it is now, the family hasn't always been buying Westports and went through a number of other yacht shipyards as well. One of these superyachts was the 53-meter sailing yacht Independence, delivered by Italian shipyard, Perini Navi in 1998.
The yacht has since been sold, renamed to Jasali II and made available for charter from €138,600 per week. Accommodating up to 10 guests in 5 cabins, she stretches over a beam of 11.4m and can cruise at up to 12 knots.
Prior to their long run with Westport, the DeVos have reportedly owned no less than five Feadships according to SYF, all of which have been named Enterprise. The first to qualify as a superyacht would become Enterprise II, a 116ft Feadship delivered in 1970 now known as Utopia II.
Although from a different era and with different standards, in the 1970s, Utopia II was a true superyacht for its time. Amongst her classical feature are a round aft with an open top deck, partly used to store its tenders. 10 years following her delivery, a new Enterprise was built by Feadship, this time measuring 131ft.
Now known as Seagull of Cayman following changes of ownership, she features several enhancements over the previous Enterprise. The most noticeable of these is a dedicated sundeck, an upper deck skylounge and a larger main salon aft of the main deck. Several weeks ago she was put again on the market at an asking price of €5,900,000.
Yet another improvement on Enterprise III, the 149ft Enterprise IV was also built by Feadship in 1985. Through the Enterprise line can be seen the growth of a niche industry into the superyacht sector it is today. Now known as Explora, the yacht features larger windows, a sleeker line and a swimming platform aft of the yacht, all of which weren't found on classical yachts.
The last Enterprise to be built was delivered by Feadship in 1993 and is today known as Chantal Ma Vie. Measuring 55-meters (179 ft) in length, she already was a good representation of the modern superyacht, featuring a sleek line, large sundeck, expansive lounges, spacious cabins, a swimming platform and purpose-built tenders. In 2010, she was sold at an asking price of $15,9 million to her current owner.
Although their effect on US policy can be polarising and debated throughout the world, the effect that Trump and member of his administration have had on yachting throughout the past decades has undoubtedly played an important role in growing the market to the point where it is today.
Celebrating its 150th anniversary, Benetti revealed groundbreaking designs and eco-friendly initiatives during the "Shaping the Future" press conference at Hotel Hermitage in Monaco.Veranda Deck™ Revolutionizes Main Deck LoungeBenetti introduced the innovative "Benetti Veranda Deck™," disrupting the conventional boundary between interior and exterior on the main deck. The Veranda Deck opens up space on three sides, creating a seamless blend between the lounge and the stern. This concept debuts on the Motopanfilo 45M, a steel project paying homage to the iconic yachts of the 1960s, with the exteriors designed by RWD and interiors envisioned by Lazzarini Pickering Architetti.B.Yond 55M – Igor Lobanov’s VisionCollaborating with Igor Lobanov for the first time, Benetti presents the B.Yond 55M. Born from Paolo Vitelli and Stefano Righini's innovative vision, this vessel caters to intrepid owners desiring global exploration without compromising luxury. Lobanov's design focuses on fluid shapes inspired by luxury automotive aesthetics, offering a visually compelling experience.Project LIFE 85M – Espen Oeino’s TouchWith Espen Oeino handling exteriors and Francois Zuretti crafting interiors, Project LIFE, the 85-meter megayacht, epitomizes Benetti's commitment to inventing new lifestyles. Offering large, reconfigurable meeting spaces on each deck, the yacht boasts a revolving lounge, embodying a new era of social entertainment. Equipped with cutting-edge technologies, including hybrid solar panels, Project LIFE is designed for reduced consumption.Project ORO 85M – Valentina Zannier’s EleganceValentina Zannier's collaboration with Benetti on Project ORO focuses on sophisticated purity, with soft lines and three-dimensional movements defining the exterior style. Zannier's interior work creates a harmonious interplay between contemporary surfaces and classic details, evoking a sense of timeless elegance.Green InitiativesBenetti reaffirms its commitment to environmental responsibility, offering hybrid or diesel-electric propulsion across most of its range. The company aims to optimize energy consumption through innovative solutions, such as a Power Management system and advanced air conditioning and heat recovery systems. Benetti has also signed an agreement with Eni Sustainable Mobility for the supply of HVOlution, a biofuel with over 80% reduced CO2 emissions compared to traditional fossil fuel.Giovanna Vitelli, Chair of Azimut|Benetti Group, expressed pride in these advancements, emphasizing Benetti's mission to provide cutting-edge yachts to the market. The company's partnerships with leading designers and focus on sustainability reflect its commitment to shaping the future of yachting.Founded in 1873, Benetti is the oldest Italian shipyard specializing in luxury yachts. They design, build and sell composite vessels from 29 to 44m and steel and aluminum boats from 37 to over 100m. Their fleet consists of five categories: Class, Oasis, B.Yond, B.Now and Custom, to meet all the needs of the market, and they belong to the Azimut|Benetti Group, the largest privately owned luxury yachting group in the world.Credits: Benetti
September 29, 2023
In an enlightening session at the Yacht Club de Monaco, Nautor Swan hosted the Swan Maxi Talk, showcasing the maritime craftsmanship behind their renowned Maxi yachts. The distinguished panel included Nautor Swan President Leonardo Ferragamo, CEO Giovanni Pomati, CTOO Michelangelo Casadei, and Head of Product Marketing Vanni Galgani, providing insights into the creation of these stunning vessels.President Ferragamo shared a unique perspective as both a shipyard President and a passionate sailor. He emphasized the role of technological innovation as the driving force behind the desire for new Maxi yachts, transcending considerations of dimensions and layouts.CEO Pomati delved into the meticulous process behind crafting Swan Maxis, offering news about the sold second hull in the Swan 128, equipped with hybrid propulsion. The event marked the introduction of the latest addition to the Swan Maxi Family: the Swan 100, a collaborative effort of Frers, Micheletti, and Poggi.Pomati highlighted Nautor Swan's comprehensive range of Maxi sailing yachts, featuring the 88, 108, 128, and now the 100. He described the Swan 100 as an evolution, not revolution, emphasizing the brand's commitment to continuity. Naval Architect Germán Frers spoke of Nautor Swan's evolution, maintaining the brand's heritage. Lucio Micheletti's design focused on a light, safe deck setup, and Misa Poggi's interiors showcased Swan's adaptive approach.The Swan Maxi Talk concluded with Pomati teasing a future flagship, the Swan 148, underscoring Nautor Swan's ongoing commitment to Maxi yacht evolution.Nautor Swan was founded in 1966 in Pietarsaari, Finland. The builder entered the superyacht market in 1999. Since then, the yard has continued building high-performance sailing yachts in three different lines; ClubSwan, Swan Yachts and Maxi Swan Yachts. Credits: Nautor Swan
September 29, 2023
Mazu Yachts presents its latest yacht, the Mazu 132 DS. This addition to the Mazu Yachts Displacement Series embodies the essence of uncompromising craftsmanship. Red Yacht Design, responsible for both the exterior and interior, has crafted every facet of the Mazu 132 DS, ensuring the utmost comfort and sophistication on board. Profjord, renowned for their expertise in designing hulls that seamlessly blend performance and stability, takes the credit for the yacht's naval architecture.One of the standout features of this model is the serene owner’s terrace, where guests can bask in unobstructed sea views within an exclusive and tranquil setting. Additionally, the Mazu 132 DS boasts an expansive flybridge exterior area, surpassing other yachts in its class. This generous space offers the perfect setting for grand gatherings and alfresco dining while soaking up the sun.Building upon the success of their previous models, the 92 DS and 112 DS, Mazu Yachts has partnered with Volvo Penta to infuse innovative technology into their yachts. The Mazu 132 DS proudly incorporates Volvo Penta’s cutting-edge IPS 40 technology, ensuring a relaxed and eco-conscious cruising experience. This advanced propulsion system not only enhances fuel efficiency but also reduces emissions.The introduction of the flagship model at the Monaco Yacht Show marks a significant milestone for Mazu Yachts. Currently in the engineering development phase, construction of the Mazu 132 DS is scheduled to commence in mid-2024. Turkish Mazu Yachts has been designing and producing Open and Hard-Top Motor Yachts and Superyacht Tenders since 2011. The state of the art facility of 3000 sq. m indoor and 1000 sq. m outdoor space also accommodates carpentry shops and paint booths for creating an anti-dust environment.Credits: Mazu Yachts
September 29, 2023
Heesen Yachts has pulled back the curtain on their latest masterpiece, Project Grace, a 49.9-meter steel superyacht poised to redefine timeless elegance. Presented at the Monaco Yacht Show, this vessel boasts a captivating blend of simplicity and sophistication in its exterior profile.With its engineering phase successfully completed and the hull thoroughly tested, construction is slated to commence next summer. Project Grace, encompassing 449 gross tons, features a Fast Displacement steel hull, promising unparalleled comfort in various sea conditions. The project's naval architecture is credited to Van Oossanen Naval Architects, while the exterior and interior aesthetics spring from the creative minds at Harrison Eidsgaard.Inspired by elements from the natural world, Heesen Yachts has incorporated its hybrid technology for intelligent power management and silent cruising capability. Additionally, modern luxury products like Rolex watches, Range Rovers, Beats Headphones, and cutting-edge technology have influenced various aspects of Project Grace's design.Designed to accommodate up to 12 guests across six staterooms, this superyacht also offers spacious quarters for a crew of up to nine members in five cabins.This superyacht project epitomizes Heesen Yachts' commitment to refined craftsmanship and functional simplicity. It will be powered by twin MAN engines, providing an impressive range of 3,800 nautical miles. Heesen Yachts is a Dutch ship building company that specializes in custom-built superyachts in aluminum and steel from 30m to 70m in size. Founded in 1978, it has launched more than 170 yachts since its inception.Credits: Heesen Yachts
September 29, 2023
Ares Shipyard is setting sail into the luxury yachting sector with the launch of its new brand, Ares Yachts, unveiled at the 2023 Monaco Yacht Show. Ares Shipyard is recognized for its commitment to quality, holding certifications to ISO 9001, ISO 14001, and ISO 45001 standards, along with being the sole Turkish shipyard awarded the Zero Waste Blue Certificate.The newly launched Ares Yachts brand will benefit from the advanced facilities of its parent company, boasting carpentry, composite, metal, and electric workshops equipped with cutting-edge technology. This combination of state-of-the-art production sites and skilled craftsmanship positions the new yachting brand for success.SpitfireChairman Kerim Kalafatoğlu expressed the company's ambition: "We have already been recognized as being both Turkey’s fastest-growing company and its largest exporter of military and commercial vehicles. This makes it the perfect time for us to expand our offering and show the superyacht industry what we are capable of!"SimenaAres Yachts has already embarked on exciting projects, including the construction of the 61.61-meter steel-hulled cruising ketch Simena, designed by Taka Yacht Design and Design Unlimited. Simena, equipped with hybrid propulsion, is set for delivery in December 2024. The 50-meter motor yacht Spitfire, designed with Lateral Naval Architects and Bannenberg & Rowell Design, is another notable project. Ares Yachts also has Project Atlas, a 54-meter fast-displacement explorer motor yacht with Hot Lab, in the pipeline.In addition, Ares Yachts is developing a new range of vessels spanning 65 meters, 75 meters, and 85 meters, characterized by advanced diesel-electric systems integrated with pods. The brand is exploring alternative energy sources such as methanol during the engineering phase in collaboration with Lateral Naval Architects.SimenaAres Yachts is currently in the tender phase of selecting partners for exterior and interior designs for this innovative range. Going forward, the brand will focus on full custom projects above 500 GT and up to 90 meters in length. As Kalafatoğlu emphasizes, "Whether it’s a sleek and modern superyacht or a majestic ocean explorer, we aim to redefine what is possible on the big blue."Founded in 2006 by the Kalafatoğlu family, Ares Shipyard has established a stellar reputation for producing naval, utility, and support vessels, having delivered over 230 vessels to more than 15 countries. Their extensive facilities in Antalya, Turkey, include a 40,000 sq. m air-conditioned production area, four hangars, and a dedicated furniture factory, with the capability to construct vessels up to 90 meters in length.Credits: Ares Yachts
September 28, 2023