A few weeks ago, I posted the story of a life-size replica of the White House in Atlanta that had gone into foreclosure—evidence, perhaps, of the recession reaching the upper rungs of the economic ladder (or of a sudden and unexpected outbreak of good taste among the monied elite.) In that vein, today I offer this story about how Saddam Hussein's custom-built, Bond-villain yacht has gone without a buyer for months and is now being returned to Iraq for storage.
The 270-foot "Basrah Breeze" (also known as the "Ocean Breeze" and "Qadissiyet Saddam") is decorated in the garish style of the deceased Iraqi dictator, complete with mahogany trim, gold bathroom fixtures, and plush carpets. And in case you happen to be a fugitive from Interpol or involved in a blood feud with an American president, the vessel also features a missile launcher and a secret escape hatch leading to a mini-submarine. Everything an aspiring Dr. Evil might require and all for the bargain price of $30 million. For all these amenities, Saddam himself never overnighted in his yacht, fearing a political uprising if he were to take to the seas even for a few hours.
The Iraqi government won the yacht from a Jordanian company in a court case last year and is apparently surprised (and not a little disappointed) that a buyer has not yet been found. The decision to bring the Basrah Breeze back to its home port in the Persian Gulf from its current home in the Greek port of Piraeus will save "docking and crew costs," said an Iraqi government spokesman, who went on to say that it has proven difficult to sell the yacht "in the current circumstances with the world dealing with the financial crisis."