Last Thursday the tropical storm associated with Sandy blew through Fort Lauderdale and it’s made me very nervous for DC and NYC. Four days after, we’re still experiencing some crazy winds and I don’t know if that is just the tail end of the storm still affecting us or if it’s completely unrelated. Either way, all of you New Englanders and Eastern Seaboarders are in our prayers.
Thursday also marked the opening of the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show, the largest boat show in the world. We sort of tossed the idea of going around and finally after church yesterday decided to check it out. To get to the show we took a little waterfront cruise past Billionaire Row in downtown Fort Lauderdale. I will warn you now, if ostentatious displays of wealth are not your thing, you may want to skip the rest of this ’cause it gets pretty ridiculous.
Fort Lauderdale is known as the Yachting Capital of the World. I guess it has something to do with the fact that there are over 300 miles of inland waterways and is home to more than 50,000 registered yachts. And, if you’re gonna have a yacht here, you’re gonna need a house and what better place to buy than on the Billionaire Mile.
The lovely number above belongs to a husband and wife team of venture capitalists. They have the distinction of being Florida’s highest property tax payers at $44,000 per month. That breaks down to about $65.00 per hour, 25 hours a day, 7 days a week. And all for two people to live here.
This was a wedding gift for one billionaire’s niece. This particular billionaire has been classified by Forbes as the “World’s Greediest Billionaire” and has a record of links to organized crime, spousal abuse, intimidation, environmental violations, and other wrongs.
See the pagoda with the blue tile roof? The third level as has a hot tub rimmed in 24 carat gold.
And this was all before we even saw the $4,000,000,000,000 (yes, that’s billion) worth of yachts.
But, just to put things into perspective. This isn’t a long-range yacht. It only goes about 1000 miles, so a real billionaire would put this boat on his larger super yacht if he was going to do some real traveling and then use this to explore once he arrived.
At this point we had a serious case of luxury fatigue and decided to head home. Before I sign off, I have to write something about the people we saw at the show. It was quite the eclectic group: Russian oligarchs, couples from Brazil, Venezuela, and Colombia, schleps like us just checking things out. Apparently, according to the agent we spoke with, Brazil is creating 19 millionaires each day and they are buying boats and real estate in S. Florida. He also said that of all the property bought by foreigners in all 50 states, 25% of it is purchased in Florida with the highest concentration being in S. Florida. As a Columbian himself, he had all sorts of things he thought about the trend and most were pretty negative. I found it fascinating.
Along with the new rich of Russia and South America, we spotted quite a few plasticized women and a bit of really expensive but bad fashion. After a year in Paris, I have to say that there seemed to be an unfortunate concentration of brightly colored lycra and sequins at the boat show. And lots of peroxide blonde, Botoxed foreheads, plumped lips, and preternaturally perky bosoms. This is a different world.