Buyers boycott Saddam yacht
PARIS (Reuters) - The sale of a luxury yacht once owned by former dictator Saddam Hussein, moored until recently off France, has met with muted interest from would-be buyers, the legal firm overseeing the operation said on Tuesday.
The Iraqi government said on Sunday that it planned to sell the Ocean Breeze, one of the many opulent treasures that belonged to Saddam, and that the pleasure boat would probably be sold within weeks.
That confirmation followed a report in Britain's Sunday Times which said the 270-foot yacht, featuring gold-tap bathrooms, a helicopter landing pad and a secret escape passageway, should fetch $30 million.
Legal firm Cohen-Amir Aslani-Marseillan-D'Ornano & Associates confirmed that the sales process had begun but had not yet attracted much solid interest.
"Given the current economic climate, clients are not falling over themselves (to make the purchase)," said one executive, noting a deafening silence from potential buyers.
Ocean Breeze had been the object of legal wranglings in the past with Jordan, which had claimed it as its own, before the yacht was handed to the Iraqi government last year, legal sources said.
An ownership dispute over the yacht had concluded in a French court, a senior Iraqi official said on Sunday.
After spending months moored off the French resort of Nice and elsewhere in the country, Ocean Breeze left for Greece a few weeks ago to undergo renovations in preparation for its sale.
Saddam, whose decades-long regime came to an abrupt end after a U.S.-led invasion in 2003 and who was hanged in 2006 for crimes against humanity, was known for a lavish lifestyle.
U.S. missiles and bombs destroyed another luxurious Saddam yacht, the Al Mansur, in southern Iraq in 2003.
While grand when it was built in 1981, the Ocean Breeze is puny compared with megayachts commissioned by a new wave of super-rich, including a 115-meter $300 million yacht owned by billionaire Roman Abramovich which boasts two helicopter pads.
(Reporting by Pierre Thebault; Writing by Tamora Vidaillet; editing by Dominic Evans)
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