The New Yorker Magazine recently told us about gigayachts:
Rather counterintuitively, we can call these huge vessels inconspicuous consumption.
Wonderfully called “The Haves and the Have-Yachts,” a recent article gave us the scoop on what the super rich are spending their money. At a Palm Beach boat show, a 203-foot second hand super yacht with its furniture included, had a $90 million price tag. Even larger, a gigayacht’s staff of 57 pampers you. They also maintain amenities that include an IMAX theater, a ski room (where you dress for your helicopter trip to the mountain), a spa, and a salon.
Since 1990, the number of people that could afford all of this is up from 66 to more than 700, However, it is culturally tilted. Out of the 100 existing gigayachts, 18 were owned by Russians (I guess they were seized). Meanwhile, among Forbes billionaires list, the ratio was 1 gigayacht for every 34 billionaires in the U.S., and 1 to 19 for the U.K.
All of this just takes us to Thorstein Veblen and needlessness.
Our Bottom Line: Inconspicuous Consumption
In his Theory of the Leisure Class, Thorstein Veblen (1857-1929) explained that the affluent convey their power and wealth though useless activities. They have servants and employees that help them do less while their money lets them signal their status by buying more.
Veblen even looks like a rather interesting gentleman:
Now, in a new version of conspicuous consumption, the rich still try to demonstrate their power. However, the twist involves a bit more subtlety. They just consume inconspicuously. The goal is to avoid logos and obscure their wealth.
And, what better way to hide your wealth than through L.O.A. (length over all), a staff of 57, and a vessel that floats alone in the middle of the ocean?
My sources and more: During an especially pleasant walk, I listened to the New Yorker yacht article. Then, my email brought me the Hustle look and FT completed the picture. Finally, for more on Thorstein Veblen, my go-to bio site is econlib.