Topaz is an example of an ultra-expensive object that not even the “regular” one-percenter can afford, and even if they could, they couldn’t. It’s a highly customized Lurssen megayacht handed to Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, a millionaire member of Abu Dhabi’s royal family.
Sheikh Mansour is the Deputy Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates and the founder of the Abu Dhabi United Group (ADUG), an investment company that in 2008 acquired Manchester City Football Club. He therefore officially owns the FC.
The Sheikh is used to the finest, most expensive, and most exclusive things in life as a billionaire with an estimated net worth of several tens of billions of dollars. Despite the fact that he is in the midst of replacing it, his megayacht is evidence of that. Even the most fantastic gadgets eventually get boring.
Topaz was the world’s fourth largest privately-owned vessel when it was delivered in May 2012, however it has subsequently dropped to number eight. Having said that, it is still regarded as one of the most opulent yachts on the market, and with a price tag believed to be between $650 million and $900 million, it is undoubtedly one of the most costly. It acquired partial money from the 1MDB investment fund, which was involved in one of the world’s biggest financial scandals at the time, drawing even more media attention to it.
Though it would seem practically difficult to conceal such a large yacht, that would be underestimating UAE millionaires. Russian oligarchs are renowned for their opulent lifestyles, which are constantly reflected in their incredibly expensive possessions and a certain carelessness in maintaining the privacy of private information. People like Sheikh Mansour are the complete antithesis of that, which explains why Topaz was given ten years ago, but little is known about it today.
Topaz was built in the Bremen yard of the luxury shipyard Lurssen, with naval architecture by Lurssen and exterior design by Tim Heywood. At the time of delivery, it was one of the most challenging and largest projects it had ever undertaken, therefore it set a new record in terms of custom, premium shipping. Topaz was also famous for its size: at 483 feet (147 meters) with an interior volume of over 12,000 GT, it’s practically gigantic.
Topaz has eight decks, a beam of 70.5 feet (21.50 meters), and two Pielstick diesel engines with 7,990 horsepower each, allowing it to reach a top speed of 25.5 knots (29.3 mph / 47.2 kph). Although no information regarding the available amenities and features was made public, urban legend has it that Topaz can sleep up to 64 guests and carry a crew of 79. These figures alone reveal Topaz’s place in a very exclusive league: most superyachts offer accommodations for a maximum of 12 guests in order to avoid the massive costs associated with adhering to a different set of regulations that would classify them as passenger ships. Such costs are obviously not a problem for men like the Sheikh.
There are two sizable helipads on board, one of which offers aircraft storage, as well as two pools (a lap pool and a huge jacuzzi, to be exact), a crowded tender garage, and other amenities. There are also opulent interiors created by Terence Disdale, a private cinema, a state-of-the-art conference room, a well-equipped gym, and a resort-style wellness center. The garage includes everything you might want, including catamarans, a mini-submarine, and four specially made tenders. The decks are connected by glass elevators.
One of Vikal’s tenders is a magnificent work of art and a world first. It’s a 37-foot (11.25-meter) convertible water limo that can carry six passengers and two crew members at speeds of up to 52 knots (59.8 mph / 96.3 kph). It also has the world’s first marine-specific hardtop, a triple-folding carbon and titanium paneled hardtop that deploys at the stroke of a button. Vikal worked for 18 months on just the triple-paneled top and the deployment mechanism.
During the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, it was announced that actor Leonardo DiCaprio had chartered (or borrowed) Topaz for his annual summer vacation with his gang. Going to the World Cup and throwing a party for 80 to 100 people, largely celebrities like Jamie Foxx and Orlando Bloom, was the highlight of the vacation. An equally big crew catered to all of their needs and whims, and all parties signed NDAs (non-disclosure agreements) before boarding.
In addition to two refits (one in 2017 and one in 2018), Topaz underwent a name change that alarmed the business community. When Topaz earned an A+ rating in 2019, there was widespread suspicion that Mansour had sold it—obviously to another billionaire. It is thought that Mansour delivered the ship to the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud as part of a transaction for a Leonardo Da Vinci picture even though the ship was never registered and no documentation of ownership was ever given.
It was also rumored at the time that Mansour had another megayacht built by the same Lurssen shipyard. Mansour is also alleged to be paying for the incomplete Opera megayacht, which was born from the ashes of the 2018 Project Sassi, which Lurssen launched in July of this year. You replace your record-breaking megayacht with two megayachts when you’re a billionaire.
Similar to Andrey Melnichenko’s prior Sailing Yacht A and Motor Yacht A, which also received their names for the same purpose, the odd new name is said to have been chosen so that the megayacht would always appear among the first entries in the international registry. Contrarily, this one receives an A+.