Reliving The Highlander’s halcyon days I conic superyacht which once hosted the great and the good to welcome aboard a new generation of stars
ith her sleek silhouette and burnished angular lines, she’s one of the most recognisable superyachts in the world. In fact, her architectural fame is usurped only by her esteemed guest list which once read like a who’s who of showbusiness, royalty and politics. HRH Prince Charles, President Ronald Reagan, Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, along with movie stars Robert de Niro, Elizabeth Taylor and Harrison Ford and musicians Mick Jagger and Paul McCartney, are just some of the venerable voyagers to have graced The Highlander’s distinguished decks. The then 150ft vessel started life in 1986 amid the furore of the nascent material world, her green colour said to exemplify the colour of money. Built for media mogul Malcolm Forbes – a man whose lavish tastes could make Roman Abramovich look thrifty – she perambulated the USA’s east coast for more than two
decades, well-heeled clientele aboard, on what Forbes dubbed his ‘capitalist tour’. Last year the amphibious icon became available for charter for the first time ever, after being bought by American financier Roberto de Guardiola in 2012. She’s since undergone a major refit, been renamed Highlander (‘the’ was ditched in line with her more playful, less corporate feel) and, at time of press, was set to slink a graceful entry into Antigua for December’s annual Yacht Charter Show. Anyone with US$215,000 a week to spare can absorb themselves and 11 guests in her effortlessly cool six staterooms, uberluxurious lounges and sundeck, revel in the outdoor Jacuzzi and launch themselves with glee onto Highlander’s heady array of aquatic toys and inflatable gym. Undeniably plush, yes, but a far more restrained version of the brazen ostentation displayed by her former owner who died in 1990. Forbes was, after all, a man who also owned a private plane the size of a
commercial jet, a fleet of Harley-Davidsons and a French chateau. For his 70th birthday he famously forked out US$2.5m to fly 1,000 pals to Tangier for a wingding featuring 600 drummers, acrobats, dancers and a cavalry. Under his guardianship, The Highlander was a flamboyant floating retreat with padded-leather ceilings, Chippendale antiques, and paintings by Raoul Dufy and Thomas Gainsborough, prompting one creative journalist to describe it as “a kind of monument to enlightened greed.” On the top deck was a helipad for Forbes’s glistening gold chopper. Designed by seminal Australian yacht maestro Jon Bannenberg – which is a bit like having a home mural by Michelangelo – the vessel was constructed by luxury manufacturer Feadship. That heritage alone was enough to justify its US$11.5m price tag, and pique the interest of tycoon de Guardiola and his interior designer wife Joanne.
Published on Jan 14, 2015
Luxury Locations The Magazine is published bi-annually and is distributed to a readership of high net worth individuals throughout Antigua &...