The world’s super rich splurged on “superyachts” in 2021, as their net worth collectively increased by $1 trillion. The number of superyachts sold, 887, was up 77% in 2021, per Bloomberg, citing data from maritime market data firm VesselsValue.
Forbes defines a superyacht as a vessel at least 79 feet long manned by a professional crew with one or more special features, such as a “limousine” boat or helicopter, an IMAX theater or a pool.
The increase in billionaires’ spending on yachts is connected to the wider trend of their wealth increasing disproportionately to middle- and lower-class people during the pandemic. For instance, at the onset of the pandemic, in March 2020, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates had a net worth of $113 billion and $98 billion, respectively. By October 2021, their net worth had ballooned to $192 billion and $132 billion.
The numbers are even more dramatic for billionaires Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg. Tesla CEO Musk’s net worth rocketed from $24.6 billion in March 2020, to an astonishing $209 billion in October 2021—a 751% increase in just 19 months. Facebook Founder Mark Zuckerberg’s wealth increased from $54.7 billion to $117.6 billion, an increase of nearly 115% in 19 months.
Bezos and movie producer Stephen Spielberg were two prominent yacht buyers in 2021. Sam Tucker, an analyst for VesselsValue, tells Bloomberg, “There simply aren’t enough yachts available for purchase,” citing the supply issues.
Extra Money & Time on Their Hands
Professor John Rosen, who teaches economics at the University of New Haven and is the executive director and founding partner of NewTechHaven consulting, says the uptick in wealth from the pandemic is undoubtedly connected to the increase in yacht sales.
“There is data now starting to come out from economists that income and wealth inequality increased over the past few years with the pandemic,” Rosen tells Newsmax Finance. “The economists see inequality between countries, and they look at within countries. The answer as to why the rich get richer and the poor get poorer is generally the same: Central banks flooded countries with currency, which increased property, real estate and stock values, which rich people own.”
Rosen says that with all this extra cash, and time, on wealthy individuals’ hands during the pandemic, they feel the need to spend it. He says an analysis of wealth in the U.S. definitely shows that the disparity between the “haves” and the “have-nots” increased these past two years of the pandemic. “To be precisely accurate, the lockdowns put working class and middle-class people out of work for a while, while flooding the world with currency that made the rich richer,” Rosen says.
‘One of the Greatest Wealth Transfers’
The disparity data comes from a report from Inequality.org, titled “Billionaire Wealth, U.S. Job Losses and Pandemic Profiteers.” Not only did the researchers find that the wealth of Bezos, Gates, Musk and Zuckerberg increased by, at minimum, tens of billions during the pandemic—but that “the $5 trillion in wealth now held by 745 billionaires is two-thirds more than $3 trillion in wealth held by the bottom 50% of U.S. households estimated by the Federal Reserve Board.”
Even before Inequality.org released its groundbreaking findings, CNBC’s Jim Cramer declared in June 2020 that “the pandemic has led to one of the greatest wealth transfers in human history.
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