In September 2014, standing in the Hong Kong airport, Nick Candy, co-founder of the design firm Candy & Candy Ltd., signed a contract for a 63-meter (206-foot) Benetti superyacht. Its original buyers, a pair the London-based real estate developer describes as “two Russian brothers,” had backed out.
If Candy stepped in, he’d get not only a discount but a completed ship by the end of August the next year. “I said to my wife, ‘Let’s do it,’ ” Candy says. “I can have a boat in one year’s time rather than four.” In an interview, Candy declines to say how much he paid for it, but a 2016 Bloomberg slideshow of the boat estimates its finished cost at $73 million.
Because the boat’s construction was well under way, Candy had limited say over the layout. “There were things I liked,” he says, “but there were lots of negatives.” Candy lists the boat’s lack of indoor and outdoor bars on every level, its inability to hold up to 1,000 bottles of wine, and a small laundry room as some of the deficiencies.
Within a year, Candy was able to fix those design flaws, fully outfit the interior, and have it ready for its debut at the 2015 Monaco Yacht Show, where he christened it 11.11.
Since then, Candy estimates he’s used 11.11 between 10 and 12 weeks a year for family and business, and leased it for charter at €650,000 ($775,500) per week for an average of eight weeks annually.
Now he’s decided to sell it, listing the boat with Y.Co for €59.5 million. The reason? “I want to build a bigger yacht,” Candy says. “It’s like anything in life. Sometimes you want to have a change. Later in life, people contract their lives; at this age, I’m still expanding.”
Plenty of Room
Candy had already co-owned two previous boats with his brother Christian, and by 2014 he knew exactly what he wanted. “I knew I didn’t want a traditional hull, but rather an axe bow for stability,” he says, describing the boat’s slightly blunted, nearly vertical bow, which cuts through waves and steadies the boat more efficiently than a traditional V-shaped bow.
Once he settled on the boat, he acted quickly.
As it stood, “it was quite heavy, design-wise,” he says. “Heavy wood, more like a Russian czar’s palace than my family home.”
It would have required a massive amount of money to rip out the wood—plus “it would have taken another six months,” Candy says—so instead he did what he could to lighten the boat’s feel, adding mirrors, changing borders from gold to silver leaf, and swapping out the existing bathroom decoration for cool white marble, all to have “more of an art deco look,” he says.
He added a large Jacuzzi on the sun deck with room for eight, added sun lounges, expanded the gym, and built out a massage room and spa. He also converted one room to a nursery with a ceiling camera, so that he could keep an eye on his children while they played.
The biggest changes, Candy says, were the various small ways he improved service on the boat.
“I wanted an inside bar and an outside bar on every level,” he says. “There was no point buying an amazing yacht that can’t get service right.” By putting so many bars in so many places, he explains, “you want someone to do the drinks and food rather than just standing in a corner.”
When a staff member is given “their own home to do their bit,” suddenly it’s a seamless experience without anyone tripping over anyone else. “You’d think on a boat this size there’s plenty of room, but you run out of room pretty quickly,” he says.
Difficult to Comprehend
And yet there is, undoubtedly, a lavish amount of space: Including the massive owner’s suite, which overlooks the bow of the ship and contains its own walk-in dressing area, there are six guest cabins that can host a total of 12 guests. (Gross tonnage is 1,181.) There are numerous common areas including a “sky lounge” (so-named because of its position on the upper deck), an outdoor 14-person dining area, a smaller salon, several more sun decks and terraces on both the fore and aft of the ship, along with the gym and a steam room covered in mosaic tiles that have a pearly finish.
The boat is staffed by a crew of 16. “I had a Ukrainian client who chartered the boat,” Candy says. “And he said he’d never seen services like this.”
Candy filled the boat with art, including a neon piece that reads “Move Me” made by Tracey Emin, who’s represented by the powerful White Cube Gallery. “That was a bespoke piece made for my wife and I,” Candy says. “Tracey came to our wedding.” There are photographs by Helmut Newton, light boxes by the German artist Hans Kotter, and a “Butterfly Wall” by the British artist Dominic Harris.
But all of this doesn’t compare, Candy says, to the thrill of actually being on the boat and using it to its fullest potential. “It’s a level of luxury that, until you’ve experienced it, is very difficult to comprehend,” he says. “You can have dinner in one place and wake up in another.”
He fondly recalls a trip to the Exumas, a Bahamian archipelago, where his crew set up a day with a barbecue and water toys on a remote beach. (Among other amenities, the boat carries two Jet Skis, three Seabobs, a Flyboard, kayaks, and a floating trampoline.) “There’s no one other than us,” he says. “Now, there’s a huge cost associated with that obviously, but if you’re successful in what you do—and we’re seeing this during the Covid crisis—more and more people want to do it.”
Super Rich Market
Which brings Candy to the subject of selling a €59.5 million superyacht in the midst of a global pandemic.
Candy has made his fortune selling very expensive homes to very, very rich people, and says there are corollaries between selling penthouses and selling superyachts. “It’s a similar market, appealing to the same customer base,” he says. “The only difference is that when someone buys an apartment it’s ‘Oh, am I going to spend as much time in London this year?’ whereas with a boat you can move it to wherever you want it.”
Moreover, Candy argues that in a pandemic the super rich who still want to travel might be loath to visit a hotel, where they have to trust that every other guest is doing their part to stay healthy. A boat, in contrast, is a comparatively hermetic environment. “Boats have proven to be the safest place in the world during Covid,” he says.
Based on a boom in recent superyacht sales, it would seem many of the world’s plutocrats agree.
This month alone, 16 yachts measuring more than 30 meters each were reported sold, according to a list compiled by SuperYacht Times.
Among the sales, according to the site, was a 59-meter Benetti yacht that sleeps 14 and was last listed at €23.5 million; a 68-meter boat, Triple Seven, which was built in 2006 and was last listed at €38 million; and a massive 73-meter yacht that was built in 2017, whose last known asking price was €92.5 million.
Of course, the sale price is just the beginning. Candy estimates that it costs about €3 million a year to operate his boat, but that doesn’t include fuel. “If you cross the Atlantic, it costs $100,000,” he says. “And it also depends on fuel prices. I wish I’d bought some fuel when it was negative oil prices.”
Candy, who describes himself as “very OCD,” says he just spent another €2 million on a “five-year survey,” redoing the carpets, blinds, lampshades, sofa fabrics, and teak decks, and updating the boat’s mechanical systems. The boat has a range of 5,000 nautical miles, a 14-knot cruising speed, and a max speed of 16.5 knots.
Should an owner desire, she could lease out the boat for charter more often, “and you could probably break even on it,” Candy says. “But you get more depreciation, because more things have more wear and tear.” Friends who charter their boats “like mad,” he says, have boats where “the wear shows, and the boat loses its luxury feel. If you go on my boat today, you’d think it’s a brand-new boat.”
Everything on Candy’s yacht ranging from the art to the master suite’s ivory leather headboard could be included in the sale, he says. “It’s all up for negotiation.”
There’s one exception, superstition or no.
“11.11 is the birthday of my oldest daughter,” he says, “but it’s also considered a ‘master number’ emanating all sorts of positive vibes.” That, he says, “is the only thing I want to keep. The name.”