Thursday 25 May 2017

Roman's holiday gives all of Venice a yacht to talk about

Tom Kington, in Rome

ROCK stars tethered their jet skis to the back of it during the Cannes Film Festival, its clean lines have impressed quayside onlookers in Antibes, and England footballer Frank Lampard is reportedly set to propose to his television-presenter girlfriend on board.

There can be no doubt that Roman Abramovich's enormous yacht Luna is enjoying the spotlight this summer as it tours the Mediterranean. But the citizens of Venice, a city more familiar than most with extravagant displays of wealth down the centuries, are not impressed.

The Russian oligarch's €130m, 377ft behemoth moored unannounced last week at one of the city's most stunning lagoon locations, as Abramovich and his girlfriend, Dasha Zhukova, pitched up for the Venice Biennale art festival, which opened to the public yesterday.

Local residents, accustomed to stunning views over St Mark's Basin, found themselves staring straight at the twin helipads and bulletproof windows of the vessel, which dwarfs all rival yachts at what has become an annual reunion of some of the most expensive private boats in the world.

First to complain was Venice's mayor, Giorgio Orsoni, who is threatening a new tax on vessels such as the Luna. "The boats are getting too big and blocking the view," he said. "These yachts are showing up to see Venice for free, but St Mark's Basin is being turned into a motorway and we have to start limiting the traffic."

Marco Paolini, co-owner of the Caffe Florian on St Mark's Square, whose artsy customers launched the Biennale in 1895, condemned the "idiotic" presence of Abramovich's boat. "There are so many beautiful places here, why do these people have to bring their houses with them?" he said.

Complete with a covered pool, massive communications tower, helipads and a crew of 40, Luna is just one vessel in what has been dubbed Abramovich's "navy" of mega-yachts.

The boat has proved a celebrity magnet this summer, hosting singers Gwen Stefani and Gavin Rossdale at Cannes after Madonna's visit last summer. Reports have also suggested that Abramovich, the owner of Chelsea FC, could lend Luna to Lampard so he can propose to Christine Bleakley of ITV's Daybreak.

© Observer

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