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Sheikh buys world's most expensive yacht

Looking for a last-minute gift for the billionaire on your list? Prices for super-yachts are down lately, but they'll still cost you millions.

By Money Staff Dec 16, 2013 1:15PM

This post comes from Leslie Shaffer at partner site CNBC.


CNBC on MSN MoneyAmong all the items billionaires buy with their money, high-class mega-yachts dominate the top-10 list of the most expensive luxury purchases, according to Wealth-X.


Luxury vessels take up eight of the top 10 slots, with the world's largest mega-yacht, the Azzam, ranking at the top of the list.


The 590-foot yacht was purchased in 2013 for a reported $627 million by the ruler of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed al Nahyan -- a price that would mean the vessel is worth around 3.5 percent of the Sheikh's net worth of around $17.9 billion, said Wealth-X, which researches the ultra-wealthy.


The Katara, a 124 meters superyacht (© Valery Hache/AFP/Getty Images

The $627 million price-tag for the Azzam, which is also the world's fastest yacht over 300 feet long with a top speed of 37 miles per hour, overtook the previous largest yacht, the $485 million Eclipse, Wealth-X said. Owned by Russian tycoon Roman Abramovich, the Eclipse was ranked number three on the list of most expensive luxury assets, coming in at around 4 percent of the total estimated net worth of Abramovich.


The Eclipse features two helicopter pads, 11 guest cabins, two swimming pools, exterior fireplace and a dance hall, as well as coming equipped with intruder detection systems, a German-built missile defense system, and bullet-proof glass and armor plating in the master suite and bridge. It can accommodate up to 30 guests and 75 crew.


The 440-foot Serene, which features seven decks, two helicopter landing platforms, storage for a large submarine and a large internal swimming pool, ranks at number four on Wealth-X's list. The yacht, owned by Yury Shefler is valued at $330 million, suggesting the founder of the company that makes Stolichnaya Vodka stretched his finances a bit for the purchase as it would mark around 20 percent of his estimated net worth, according to the Wealth-X list.


To be sure, real estate can't be written off. The second-most-expensive luxury asset is Lanai Island in Hawaii, purchased by Oracle founder Larry Ellison for $500 million and representing around 1 percent of his estimated net worth of $46.4 billion.


Lest you worry that Ellison isn't cruising the high seas with his fellow billionaires, he is part owner of the 454-foot Rising Sun. Although it doesn't rank on Wealth-X's top-10 list, the yacht houses 16 guests and 45 crew and cost an estimated $200 million to build.

The Monaco home of Dmitry Rybolovlev tied with another yacht for eighth place on the list, with the real estate having a price tag of $286 million, coming in at 2.5 percent of his estimated net worth.


But while yachts may rank among the most expensive toys, their sales and prices have been on a downtrend.


Deliveries of super-yachts -- those more than 30 meters, or around 98 feet -- fell to 169 in 2012. This was down from the boom-time level of 261 seen in 2008, according to the Yachting Index from Superyacht Times and Camper & Nicholsons.


Overall, prices are down about 20 percent since 2008, and the number of super-yachts being built has also fallen.


Some Russian and Middle Eastern buyers of very large yachts -- those over 250 feet -- have continued to place orders. The average size of yachts ordered also continues to increase. But the mass of U.S. boating enthusiasts who were buying 120-foot and 150-foot boats in the peak years of 2007 and 2008 has yet to return.


More from CNBC:

Dec 16, 2013 2:22PM
I have a 17 foot Coleman canoe with a radio mounted onto it.
Dec 16, 2013 5:18PM
We put a hold on buying a yacht this year and decide to pay the heating bill instead! Merry Christmas y'all. 
Dec 16, 2013 2:18PM
Gee could I borrow $5 so I could eat tonight
Dec 16, 2013 4:35PM
I have a toy boat that I play with in my bathtub...
Dec 16, 2013 2:28PM
I sure enjoy my 14 foot yacht, I take it on mountain lakes-enjoy the view and catch some really nice fish. I really don't care about some rich middle eastern sheikhs bigger boat, when the Chinese invade the oil fields in the next 12 to 14 months, they will probably turn it into a destroyer.
Dec 16, 2013 4:06PM
My yacht is a 16 ft. carpeted Lund Rebel that seats three on adjustable luxury seats. It's powerful 25 hp motor reaches 21 mph. It can sleep two on the floor. No rocket launchers, but it does have a foot pedal controlled trolling motor, and under water sonar.
Dec 16, 2013 8:10PM
Oh yeah Sheikh, I just saved big on my boat insurance by switching to Geico!
Dec 16, 2013 4:04PM
Wow-this is soooooooooooooooooooo cool. Glad to see trickle-down is working!
Dec 16, 2013 4:41PM
This is simply overindulgence. Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed al Nahyan makes a mockery of his country and his religion, not only for the initial cost, but also for the upkeep on such an extravagant BOAT!
Dec 16, 2013 3:09PM
it's not just the arabs.  look at the list.
Dec 16, 2013 2:00PM
the money came from the us tax payers
Dec 16, 2013 5:36PM
I wished he lived in America so Obama could distributed his wealth to all the masses
Dec 16, 2013 7:00PM
Nice, I have an Associate Degree and can't find a $10.00/hour job. LOL
Dec 16, 2013 6:08PM
I have a 17' bass tracker. Sleeps two when we fall asleep in the pedastal seats. 360 degree head and no galley. But its paid for.
Dec 16, 2013 7:22PM
Our row boat cost $ 35 with the oars. And I thought we were hot ****!
Dec 16, 2013 5:16PM
I once went fishing in a row boat.   Didn't catch nothin.
Dec 16, 2013 6:10PM
A lot of cool looking yachts. Just shows how much wealth there is in this world.
Dec 16, 2013 4:05PM
Dec 16, 2013 3:19PM
Maybe just maybe these people can afford odumbo care insurance and deductibles!!!
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