A whale of a tale about a $6 billion superyacht is soon consigned to history ... but not soon enough.
A gold-plated 30m superyacht, said to be valued at about $6 billion, turns out to be just an elaborate hoax.
The old joke about never letting the truth get in the way of a good story has been illustrated in a frenzy of media reports about the yacht with the unlikely name of History Supreme.
Reports in Britain and Malaysia said History Supreme was adorned with 100,000kg of gold and platinum. Half the surface of the 30m superyacht was said to be covered in gold, with reports gushing that "the base of the yacht as well as the deck, dining areas, rails and anchor are wrapped in solid gold and the sleeping areas are covered in platinum".
An aquarium made from 68kg of 24-carat gold and a luxury liquor carafe, featuring an 18.5-carat diamond, one of the world's rarest, were just some of the mythical yacht's imaginary features.
So too was a statue, said to be made from the bone of a T-Rex dinosaur, which was reported to grace a wall in the master bedroom "specially crafted from meteoric stone".
The yacht, apparently based on a Baia Yachts One Hundred, had taken three years to construct, was the work of "renowned UK luxury goods designer" Stuart Hughes and was commissioned by an anonymous Malaysian businessman.
Hughes, who claims to be the "pioneer of the world's most luxurious bespoke gadgets", not only still profiles History Supreme on his website, he also "generously" helps media by supplying apparently genuine photos of the gold-plated yacht.
He also boasts the sort of history that makes this tale of a $6 billion superyacht seem almost plausible, if unlikely.
Hughes and his wife, Katherine, started their "bespoke upgrade service" in 2002 and the designer has since applied what he modestly calls his "golden touch" to a variety of objects.
These include the Aquavista Panoramic Wall Aquarium, made from 68kg of 24-carat gold, valued at a cool $6 million, and a bespoke $10 million iPhone.
Reportedly wrapped in 500 cut diamonds, the iPhone includes two interchangeable diamonds which fit over the "home" button, a single-cut 7.4-carat pink diamond and a rare 8-carat single-cut flawless diamond that are together worth more than $8 million.
A luxury liquor bottle, the D'Amalfi Limoncello Supreme, is said to contain an even bigger diamond (another 18.5-carat one) and to have cost $54 million.
An iPad, laptops, beds, cars and even a suit have also apparently received the Hughes treatment, being decorated with precious metals and jewels.
Perhaps it was that background that convinced some writers to suspend disbelief and trumpet the world's most expensive superyacht as a fact.
Whatever it was, the story certainly received wide coverage. But canny marine publications, such as Motorboat Monthly and Megayacht News, soon cast doubts on whether History Supreme really existed.
Motorboat Monthly pointed out that there were only three people in Malaysia with the kind of wealth to enable them to afford a $6 billion yacht. Two were aged 72 and 87, hardly the age when this type of ostentatious bling appeals.
The magazines also conjectured how a boat with a displacement of 80 tonnes could cope with the addition of a further 100 tonnes of gold plate. Surely, they said, it would be sitting perilously low in the water or, more likely, under it.
They had several other concerns. One was that the amount of gold claimed to be used on History Supreme was about three times the amount held by Malaysia's central bank.
The two magazines obviously tried to get Hughes to comment on these inconsistencies.
However, apart from a rather vague statement that the yacht was going to be used as an ornament and not actually head to sea, they had little luck.
A spokesman from Baia Yachts was, however, more forthcoming.
"Who would believe that a boat would have 100 tonnes of gold on board?" he said dismissively.
The spokesman, who seemed remarkably unconcerned by the large-scale hoax, said it appeared that Hughes had taken some pictures from the Baia website without permission.
"We will write him a letter asking him to take them down, but we are not thinking to go legal.
"It's such a stupid story, it's not worth it." Stupid, perhaps, but, for a while at least, apparently widely believable.