Wealthy enough to own a mega-yacht but too cheap to pay for parking?
Just drop anchor next to the Statue of Liberty and soak up the million-dollar views for free.
That was the tack of Russian-American oil tycoon Eugene Shvidler, who reportedly anchored his 370-foot vessel, “Le Grand Bleu,” next to Lady Liberty for weeks at a time between April and June.
No sooner did he leave Liberty Bay than Swiss-Italian scion Ernesto Bertarelli parked his 318-foot “Vava II” in the same waters, followed by German billionaire Reinhold Wurth in his relatively modest, 280-foot “Vibrant Curiosity” this month, according to reports.
But the rich-guy antics have obstructed views of the iconic monument and left tourists fuming. Now, a New Jersey state senator wants to clear the bay of parked mega-yachts for good.
“When Emma Lazarus wrote about America welcoming ‘your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,’ it was not an invitation to billionaire oil tycoons to use the waters surrounding the Statue of Liberty as a parking lot for their yachts,” Democratic state Sen. Richard Codey of Essex said in a statement Friday. “It is unsafe for navigation, unfair to others and completely antithetical to the spirit of one of the world’s most compelling symbols of freedom and equal opportunity.”
Codey said he will introduce a resolution at the next Senate session, likely this fall, calling on the U.S. Coast Guard to ban the long-term anchorage of boats near Liberty Island.
The purpose, according to a draft of the resolution, is to “maintain the public’s ability to enjoy views of the monument and park and to protect against security risks.” The measure does not define “long-term.”
A spokesman for the Coast Guard said Friday that white buoys prevent boats from anchoring within 100 feet of Liberty or Ellis islands but that vessels can legally park outside that security zone provided they don’t block traffic on the Hudson River.
The mega-yachts typically take advantage of a “nook” between Liberty and Ellis islands, Petty Officer Steve Strohmaier said, where the channel is deep and smaller boats have difficulty dropping anchor.
“We’re definitely dealing with laws that are on the books already,” Strohmaier said, “but we gladly will take a look at whatever laws senators or the public would like to have put in place.”
Changing the laws would require public hearings and a lengthy consultation process, Strohmaier said.
“We can’t just put up a ‘no parking’ sign overnight,” he said.