Haute Yachts: Rare Classic Yacht Up for Auction

Over the course of six decades, Whiticar Boat Works has been building custom sportfishing boats — except for one instance in the 1960s. That’s when John Hay “Jock” Whitney, a businessman, philanthropist and avid sportsman, commissioned the one and only motoryacht it ever built. That yacht, the 63-foot Elegante, is being auctioned on Oct. 30 at the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show, and it’s your chance to own a piece of history.

Why would Whitney request a sportfishing builder create a motoryacht? As Elegante’s current captain Jack Grimes explains, Whitney actually originally wanted a Trumpy, but Trumpy was experiencing difficulties at the time. Whitney knew of Whiticar’s reputation for having boats that could handle calm and sloppy seas equally well, so he approached the yard’s management team. Whiticar therefore employed its proven sportfishing hull, built entirely of wood, and designed a cabin and accommodations for four people to enjoy overnight cruises. “Whitney — a multimillionaire sportsman and founder of J.H. Whitney & Co., the oldest venture capital investment company in the U.S. — spared no expense when he commissioned the luxurious Elegante motor yacht nearly five decades ago,” Dana Mecum, president of Mecum Auctions, comments. “Elegante’s graceful style puts the yacht in a class of her own.”

Indeed. Elegante’s interior and on-deck highlights, featuring polished brass and woodwork coated with 20 layers of varnish for that all-important high-gloss look, have been well-maintained by her current owner and two-person crew. While only a handful of people can sleep aboard, Elegante can actually host about two dozen people for cocktail cruises, too. Thanks to her efficient hull design and twin 680-hp Detroit Diesel engines, she has a good turn of speed: 24 knots at the top end. In recent years, Elegante has visited Canada and the Bahamas, and she’s also done a good deal of coastal cruising in her native Florida.

The auction is being held by Mecum Auctions, the well-known house specializing in the sale of collector cars. It will be held at Bahia Mar Yachting Center, B-Dock, Slip 223. Further details, including how to place a bid, are on the Mecum website.