Aviation, tourism and energy writer for the Business Herald

Superyacht that wowed NZ turns heads on Thames

A $400 million superyacht that wowed onlookers around New Zealand is turning heads in London where it is being shown off in what is believed to be a bid to attract super-wealthy buyers.

Motor Yacht A is owned by Belarussian tycoon Andrey Melnichenko and his wife Serbian model Aleksandra who spent time in cruising around New Zealand after the vessel had been refitted here two summers ago.

Melnichenko has a fortune of $15 billion, according to Forbes magazine, built largely as a result of his interests in coal mining, oil and chemical processing in Russia.

Designed by Philippe Stark, the 119m A has three swimming pools on board, including one with a glass bottom, along with six guests suites, a helipad and a top speed of 23 knots.

It has a crew of 42 and is now moored on the Thames next to the HMS Belfast.

The superyacht has many mirrored rooms and one guest suite is lined with white stingray skins.

The feature stairwell is coated with silver leaf and has $70,000 hand-carved banisters. Its patented bath taps are worth $45,000.

One chair is made of alligator hide and horns from a kudu antelope and the Wall Street Journal reported Stark built in a cushion-lined "nookie room" hidden behind a mirrored cabinet.

It is fitted with numerous security cameras with motion detection systems. Its 240sqm master suite incorporates bomb-proof glass and is opened only by a fingerprint pad and accessible to four or five people.

While in New Zealand the Melnichenkos cruised to Waiheke and Great Barrier Island, the Bay of Islands, Whangaroa, Napier, Wellington and the Marlborough Sounds.

Andrey Melnichenko with wife Aleksandra Nikolic.
Andrey Melnichenko with wife Aleksandra Nikolic.

They enjoyed wine tours, went ziplining, hiking, mountain biking, horse riding, dined at Auckland restaurants and had a hangi on an island in the Bay of Islands.

The couple are said to have enjoyed the laid back nature of New Zealand and anonymity here and extended a fortnight stay to a month.

The Telegraph reported Andrey Melnichenko arrived in London on Motor Yacht A after inspecting his new vessel Sailing Boat A, which is currently being completed at the Blohm + Voss shipyard in Hamburg.

Motor Yacht A cruised around New Zealand after a refit in Auckland.
Motor Yacht A cruised around New Zealand after a refit in Auckland.

He is understood to be putting Motor Yacht A - the 21st largest super yacht in the world - up for sale and there is speculation he is hoping to entice a buyer among the capital's super rich.

In addition to the two yachts, Melnichenko owns a customised Boeing 737 private jet, a villa in the French Riviera, a penthouse in New York and a sprawling estate near Ascot, England.

- NZ Herald

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