The Spoiler: The man with the Golden Star
While Paul Allen and Larry Ellison were busy duking it out, metaphorically speaking, over whose yachts are bigger, the world's largest yacht quietly took its place on the throne over in Dubai. The 525-footer began taking shape in the shipyards of Lürssen and Blohm + Voss under the name of Platinum, for Prince Jefri of Brunei. When bankruptcy overtook Prince Jefri in 1998-he was accused of diverting $14 billion of his father's sultanate's oil money into his own accounts-another prince was waiting in the wings.
But Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum is not just another prince. The de facto ruler of Dubai because his brother prefers to spend his time in the UK, Sheikh Maktoum is an ambitious businessman and national visionary who has put Dubai on the map with bold construction projects and newsworthy plans. Chairman of the Emirates Group, which owns Emirates airline, he has led a recent $28 billion purchase of airplanes, including 45 new Airbus A380s. Emirates will likely cut the seating aboard the new 850-seat jumbojets in half, and devote the space to individualized luxury onboard "suites."
When you live on such a scale, buying an unfinished super-yacht probably qualifies as bargain hunting. In any event, the yacht was barged to Dubai to be completed and launched in early April under a new name: Golden Star. Interior design is said to be by Philippe Starck, who made his name creating trendy hotels; like most of the new breed of superyachts, she is expected to carry a submarine, a helicopter or two, multiple tenders and a landing craft to ferry a complement of cars to distant shores.