Buyers boycott Saddam yacht

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The luxury mega-yacht “Ocean Breeze” is up for sale, but is not getting much interest. Not because of its price, but its pedigree.

The ocean-going palace was built in 1981 by then Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. It was one of thousands of extravagant toys in Saddam’s entertainment arsenal, which also included palaces and planes available to the dictator at a moment’s notice. But while land-based palaces might be tough to sell, this floating palace is also proving problematic.

First there was a year’s long dispute between the new government in Iraq, the country of Jordan and a yacht broker over who actually owned the ship after Saddam was ousted and hanged. The ship was moored off the French resort of Nice until a French court declared the new government of Iraq the legal owner, agreeing that Iraq owned the assets of the deposed despot. The “Ocean Breeze” has since left for Greece, to undergo renovations in preparation for its sale.

But according to the legal firm handling the sale, there is so far little interest in Saddam’s expensive toy, perhaps because of its famous, some say “infamous”, former owner. The Iraqi government hopes to get as much as $30 million dollars for the 270 foot long yacht. Its features include: gold tap bathrooms, a helicopter landing pad, swimming pools, salons, a rocket launching system, and a passageway built for a secret escape in case the rockets don’t work.

But selling any high ticket item in today’s economy is tough. And the “Ocean Breeze” may look like a dinghy compared to the mega-yachts being bought for hundreds of millions of dollars by newly minted billionaires from Russia, Asia and the Middle East.

Here’s one final tidbit. U-S missiles and bombs destroyed another of Saddam’s luxury yachts, the Al Mansur, in southern Iraq during its 2003 invasion. Rather than being forced to walk the plank, Saddam was hanged in 2006.

(Brian Banmiller is a national Business Correspondent for CBS News Radio, free lance writer and public speaker. The former television business news anchor in San Francisco can be reached at brian@banmilleronbusiness.com .)