Thursday, January 22, 2009

No Takers

Late last fall Saddam Hussein's megayacht, Ocean Breeze, finally got a for-sale sign. Now, two months later, that for-sale sign is still swinging in, well, the breeze (pun intended). The former dictator's 270-foot vessel is now making its way back to Basra, Iraq, courtesy of the Iraqi government. It had been moored in France where it waited for a nearly yearlong ownership battle to play out in the courts (see "Winds of Change," in our February issue).

Built in 1981, the megayacht sports a mini-operating theater, a helicopter landing pad, bathrooms with gold-plated fixtures and a secret passageway. When it hit the market in November industry experts expected it to fetch approximately $30 million; however, as the global economic crisis rages most buyers are tightening their purse strings, sitting on the sidelines until the markets take a turn for the better.

According to a statement from Iraqi government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh, the Iraqi finance ministry had been instructed to pay about two percent of Ocean Breeze's value to a lawyer handling the paperwork. In addition, it had to pay mooring fees and the charges of a Greek company that had been maintaining the megayacht. To avoid continued mooring fees—and possible lawsuits concerning them—the government decided to bring the Ocean Breeze home.

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