Tom Perkins Takes a Bath (Financially) on His Superyacht

Tom Perkins was highly regarded as a venture capitalist but his track record as an investor in ostentatious yachts is looking a bit shabby at the moment. According to the Times of London, Perkins, 77, is finalizing the sale of his 289-foot yacht, the Maltese Falcon, for roughly $100 million after reportedly paying $150 million for it. The boat, which can run on giant sails or engines and was built in Turkey, has been up for sale since February of last year. Perkins’ original asking price was $180 million.

The Maltese Falcon was once the world’s largest privately owned sailing yacht, though as the San Francisco Chronicle observes, it looks like a dinghy these days next to the year-old, 557-foot Eclipse, owned by Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich.

Indeed, Abramovich appears to be one of the few megayacht owners immune to the market collapse of last fall. According to the recently published Super Yachting index, compiled by yacht builder Camper & Nicholsons International, fully 1,600 megayachts — 38 percent of the world’s active inventory — were placed on sale last year. At the same time, yacht prices dropped by a fifth, as credit-crunched millionaires began taking a greater interest in chartering boats. (Yacht rentals were up 25 percent last year, according to the same index.)

Little surprise that Perkins insists that by chartering his boat for $550,000 per week for a period a while ago, he still made enough to break even. VCs seldom admit to failed bets, and Perkins — who cofounded Kleiner Perkins in 1972 but  retired from an active role with the firm about a dozen years ago — is no exception.

On the contary, not only did Perkins publish a memoir a few years ago, Valley Boy: The Education of Tom Perkins, but he’s been as hard-charging about his retirement as he was about investing. In addition to his yacht, Perkins has sunk untold millions into a personal sports submarine that has, at times, been parked on the forward deck of the Maltese Falcon; a world-class car collection that has included an Aston Martin, a Bentley, and a Porsche Carrera GT; and a 900-year-old, moated English estate.

“You do like to show off?,” he was asked two years ago on “60 Minutes.”

“Guilty as charged,” he answered.

Unfortunately for inquiring minds, Perkins isn’t yet saying who is buying the yacht, which features six spacious guest rooms, eight crew cabins, a private gym and, curiously, a sculpture of a vintage Bugatti racing car.