Jeff Bezos’ yacht to force dismantling of dutch bridge

Jeff Bezos’s massive new superyacht is nearing completion, but getting it to its owner will require taking out a bridge.

The 417-foot-long sailing yacht, code-named Y721, is being built by Alblasserdam, Netherlands-based Oceanco. For the boat to reach the ocean, it will have to pass through Rotterdam, and navigate a landmark steel bridge known as De Hef. A lift bridge, De Hef’s central span can be raised more than 130 feet into the air, but that’s still not high enough to accommodate the yacht’s three giant masts.

So the city has agreed to temporarily take apart the bridge’s central section this summer for Bezos’s yacht to pass through, according to Frances van Heijst, a Rotterdam spokeswoman. The NL Times reported the bridge plan earlier Wednesday.

The Y721 will be one of the largest sailing yachts ever built in the Netherlands, the unofficial capital of boat building for the very wealthy. Rotterdam council project leader Marcel Walravens defended the city’s decision to allow the bridge to be dismantled, telling local broadcaster Rijnmond it was the “only alternative” to complete what the municipality considers “a very important project” economically.

Oceanco, and not the city, will foot the cost of the bridge demolition, van Heijst said. It’s likely some of those costs will be passed on to Bezos, the world’s second-richest person with a net worth of $175.8 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. 

De Hef is considered an icon of Rotterdam’s industrial heritage as a shipbuilding hub, and news of its partial demolition has caused a stir among locals. 

“This man has earned his money by structurally cutting staff, evading taxes, avoiding regulations and now we have to tear down our beautiful national monument?” Rotterdam politician Stephan Leewis wrote on Twitter. “That is really going a bridge too far.”

It’s not the first headache caused by Y721’s tall masts. The enormity of the yacht’s sails will make it unsafe to land a helicopter onboard, so Bezos has commissioned a support yacht equipped with a helipad to trail alongside. 

Surging levels of personal wealth pushed superyacht sales to record levels last year. A total of 887 such ships were sold in 2021, a 77% jump from a year earlier and more than double the number in 2019, according to a report from maritime data firm VesselsValue. Boat builder Burgess reported more than 2 billion euros ($2.3 billion) in superyacht sales last year. 

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