Sales of superyachts are soaring amid growing numbers of billionaires and the appeal of escaping crowds during the COVID pandemic.
Purchases of luxury vessels longer than 30m (98ft) increased by over 8% in the first nine months of 2021 compared with the same period in 2019, according to industry publication The Superyacht Group.
Brokers Fraser Yachts said 2021 sales are “significantly outperforming” those of the last 12 years.
Superyacht prices start at $10m if bought secondhand and can be as high as $600m when new, industry figures show.
More than 200 new ones have set sail for the first time from January to September this year, an increase from 165 in the same period of 2019, The Superyacht Group said.
Another 330 orders have been placed.
“Some have seen that their ultra-rich friends who own yachts had a nice time during the pandemic, while they had to lock themselves at home,” said Pepe Garcia, chairman of Spanish shipyards MB92, a superyacht refit firm.
“I think this phenomenon is going to last for a few years.”
Alberto Galassi, chief executive of Italian yacht builder Ferretti, said the pandemic “has taught us how fragile our life is”.
“Postponing is no longer an option for those who can afford it,” he said.
Azimut Benetti, another Italian yacht builder, said US clients have been driving the demand, with a “real boom” starting last spring.
The number of people who can afford to buy the boats has increased, with Forbes reporting there are now 2,755 billionaires – up by 660 on the previous year.
Tycoons who own superyachts include Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, Chinese billionaire Jack Ma and music producer David Geffen.
Last May Mr Geffen was ridiculed after posting about being “isolated” on his yacht in a tropical paradise and hoping everyone else was “staying safe” during the pandemic.
“Did David Geffen just give everyone the middle finger?” one Instagram user said.
Mr Bezos’s superyacht is estimated to have cost about $500m (£350m).
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