In what would probably be rejected as too obvious a visual metaphor in nine out of ten Hollywood movies, a Russian-American oil billionaire angered visitors and photographers visiting the Statue of Liberty in New York last week. Eugene Shvidler, born in Russia but a US citizen since 1994, parked his massive 370-foot mega yacht right in front of Lady Liberty for two weeks in April, followed by much of June, according to the New York Post.
Shvidler is perfectly within his rights to anchor his ship where he did, but the unwritten norms of the area dictate that boats only remain there for a day or two at most. Roland Lewis is president of the non-profit Waterfront Alliance, an organization devoted to the shores adjacent to the statue, and he was understandably unhappy about Shvidler’s actions:
“It’s the people’s statue versus a person’s private boat. That boat is right there obstructing the parade of excursion boats that go out there to visit the statue.”
In case you’re interested, the name of Shvidler’s yacht is Le Grand Bleu, a gift from fellow wealthy yacht enthusiast Roman Abramovich, and reportedly ranks as one of the largest in the world. Despite many visitors’ displeasure with the Bleu getting in the way of their view of the Statue of Liberty, a spokesman for the Coast Guard said Shvidler won’t be asked to move unless he creates “an unreasonable obstacle.”
As of this writing, the yacht has left its controversial spot for less scrutinized waters, but it isn’t known whether Shvidler plans to stay away for good or if this is just another trip in between stints near Liberty Island.