Saddam Hussein’s Yacht Listed For $34.45 Million

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The Iraqi government has put the former dictator’s boat, along with its complicated history, on the market. The yacht is 269 feet and can accommodate 28 guests with a crew complement of 35. Built in Helsingor (ironically Hamlet’s setting), by Danish shipyard Helsingor Vaerft, who was sworn to secrecy about the build. Curiously, Saddam never took delivery of it. It was in the second year of the Iran/Iraq War, so maybe he had other things on his mind, and in any case, he was always frightened of a coup, so he rarely left Iraq. Still, he named it Qadissiyat Saddam, after the first ever battle between the Arabs and the Persians in 627 AD, which ended the Persian dominance of Iraq; and in Iraq that’s what they were calling the current war. With typical hubris, Saddam ordered a load of extravagances-Arabesque arches, dark wood carvings, deep pile carpets and loud colors like purple, green and salmon, rugs woven with views of holy cities, and gold taps. Also included: 2 doctor’s offices, a surgical room, a party room (for 200) with a bulletproof atrium, and a full-length secret passageway that would have enabled escape via a speedboat in case of trouble. It’s almost like the ship comes straight out of Ian Fleming’s mind; this could easily be a description of a Bond villain’s megayacht. But instead of going to Saddam, the ship went to Saudi Arabia’s royal family, and sat moored in the port of Jeddah for ten years. Was it a gift? Or did he intend to take delivery at some later date when his vision of the war was realized – a decisive Arab victory over the Persian masses, leading to the complete surrender of the Iranian nation? Whatever the case, the Saudi Royal family renamed the yacht Al-Yamamah (‘The Dove’) and kept a crew on standby, yet never sailed it. Then, as rumor has it, it was presented in early 2007 as a “souvenir” to Jordan’s King Abdullah, reason unknown. It was then renamed once again in the blandest possible fashion, and put up for sale as ‘Ocean Breeze’. However, by now the Iraqi government had become aware of the yacht, and began a court battle against the Cayman Islands firm part-owned by King Abdullah, who then claimed that the yacht had been given to them by Saddam himself-no mention of the ten years the boat had languished in the custody of the Saudi Royal Family. Since there were no documents to prove the gift, the Iraqi government eventually won it back. Now they have renamed it again, as Basra Breeze.  Of course, the bad news is that some brokers say you’d need another $35 million to restore the old boy.

Via WSJ Online

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