John Staluppi is a name well known in yachting. In the 1980s he started Millennium Yachts with longtime friend John Rosatti.
Staluppi is recognized for yachts with unforgettable James Bond-themed names, such as Octopussy and Moonraker. He has owned quite a few boats over his lifetime—perhaps 22—but who is counting? In the 1970s and early ’80s Staluppi mostly messed around with power-and sportfishing boats on the Long Island Sound. Satisfying a craving for speed, he then owned a succession of Cigarettes. His 2004-built 145-foot yacht, The World is Not Enough, is touted as the world’s fastest megayacht, purportedly reaching speeds upward of 65 knots. Over time, Staluppi’s need for speed dissipated. Currently he is focusing on developing the ideal charter yacht. While yachting is a hobby for this chronic buyer and seller, he also sees it as a sideline business. In the last few years, with his hands-on broker Peter Thompson at Ocean Independence, he sold his 162-foot Christensen Casino Royale after a successful charter season; bought and refitted a 177-foot 2001 Benetti–which he renamed Quantum of Solace–offered her for charter and then sold her. Quantum was clearly an interim boat as he simultaneously took over the build of the partially completed 200-foot (61-meter) FB253 at Benetti’s Livorno shipyard. That yacht, Diamonds Are Forever, made a high-profile US debut at the 2012 Miami Yacht & Brokerage Show. The “Queen of the Show” dwarfed all others docked alongside Collins Avenue. How did she even maneuver into that tight dock space? It wasn’t luck. Staluppi is one determined guy. Much planning went into assuring that not only the boat was finished on time but that she was the right height and right draft to make Miami.
Staluppi is not an aloof, sit-on-the-aft-deck-and-drink-cocktails kind of yacht owner; he is a hands-on guy. The son of an Italian electrician who immigrated to Brooklyn, Staluppi grew up in a humble household with a strong work ethic. At 16, laboring as a mechanic, he discovered not only a proclivity but a penchant for engines. His prowess with cars eventually propelled him from under the chassis into the showrooms and behind the scenes of a successful automotive business. Early beginnings at a Sunoco service station segued into owning multiple car dealerships in greater New York and Florida.
Staluppi, who has an innate fascination with how things work, fulfilled his passion for cars by creating his “Cars of Dreams” museum in North Palm Beach. Diamonds Are Forever is the latest installment in his ongoing love affair with boating. John Staluppi and his lovely wife, Jeanette, chatted with us at the Yacht & Brokerage Show. Their boat had newly arrived in the United States.
Jill Bobrow: What was your ambition behind starting Millennium and getting involved in the hands-on building of yachts?
John Staluppi: We were trying to change the culture of big boats…we wanted to build what Americans like. I think there is a disconnect between what most European builders build and what Americans want.
What exactly do you mean?
JS: I think there should be a worldwide yacht. For instance, I am in the car business, and automobiles are built for a worldwide market.
Are you saying that a builder like Benetti is building with mostly Italians or Europeans in mind?
JS: Well, in a way, yes. With our last Benetti, Quantum of Solace, the quality was there, but it didn’t have the amenities that [we] typical Americans want.
Care to elaborate?
JS: Take most European hotels, they have smaller rooms, smaller beds, small bathrooms, hardly any air conditioning—there is always a bit of a sacrifice.…We in America are used to more space and more comfort.…But don’t get me wrong; I love Europe and I love Italy. After all, my parents are from Italy. I traveled to Livorno perhaps 10 to 12 times during the build.
You took over the build of a partially constructed boat. Were you able to institute all the changes and amenities that you wanted?
JS: I had wanted to build from scratch, but by buying a hull and superstructure already under construction, I saved myself a couple of years. Plus, Benetti was amenable to my changes. We added a top deck; we revamped the engine room and pushed out some hidden space not utilized before by Benetti in the side hulls to make larger guest accommodations. We created bigger bathrooms and implemented little but important touches like vanity lights for the ladies. In fact, we revamped much of the lighting system. We certainly put our mark on the boat and, who knows, perhaps created some new standards for Benetti even.
In addition to size and space, what other novelties did you employ?
JS: We changed door systems: the way a door opens and stays open; we improved on latches, but in the bigger picture, we altered the mechanical parts of the engine room and made everything stainless. The entire boat can run on the emergency generator if necessary. We also designed a hydraulic mast that could fold down so the boat could fit under the bridge here in Miami, and we changed the specs to have a shallower draft. Plus, I believe we made the largest pilothouse ever in a Benetti.
You did this boat in record time…
JS: When I made the deal to buy the boat, I said, “I’ll buy it under the condition I can have it done in 18 months.” Well, it took 19 months. Not bad—especially with all the changes my wife made. (Jeanette Staluppi smiles).
JS then adds: The boat was a partnership; Jeanette and I did it together.
Jeanette, what is your pride and joy on the boat?
Jeanette: We were so busy working on it to get it ready, I haven’t even spent any time on it yet. I do love the galley. Our chef wanted countertops at the right height, an induction cooktop, a steam oven and an efficient place to put out lots of food, keep it all hot and get it plated efficiently. We can serve dinner to 20 to 30 guests.
Do you like to cook?
JS: Look at the size of me! How do you think I got this way? (Jeanette laughs.)
Jeanette: I love to cook at home but I don’t cook on the boat. This boat is set up well for charter and for dinner parties; it is designed so crew can get around easily with a mini galley or pantry at every station.
Diamonds has quite a few decks? Do you have a dumbwaiter?
JS: No, absolutely not. I think they are dumb. They are rarely used and mostly become storage places. They are a waste of time; just another thing to go wrong. We have 15 crew; I think that should do the trick for service.
What are the bonus qualities you have established for charter?
JS: This boat is built with two equal master cabins and four equal guest staterooms, with king-size beds in all except the twin-bedded cabin, which also has pullman berths in case more room is needed for children. There are numerous amenities and thoughtful gestures in the master and VIP.
Jeanette: One thing is, we have put powder rooms on the same level as the bed, so you don’t have to go down a few steps in the middle of the night to the bathroom.
JS: We have an elevator that can accommodate a wheelchair. All the passageways are wheelchair accessible and the staircases all have a gentle rise.
What about the décor and interior design?
JS: Evan Marshall is our interior designer. He worked closely with Jeanette. He has done other boats for us, so he knows our taste.
Jeanette, did you have an overriding theme in mind?
Jeanette: I wanted it to be contemporary, so it would appeal to any charter guest. I also liked the idea of an Art Deco style and a “Diamonds are Forever” theme. I shopped and hand picked a lot of the fixtures and artwork…some here, some in Europe.
Jeanette, this is getting to be quite a job for you. You and John create boat after boat and sell. Do you feel you lose a piece of your heart each time?
Jeanette: Oh no, I have plenty of ongoing projects, plus my family and my home in Florida. We enjoy the process, then we simply move on. It’s what we do.
Photos by Bugsy Gedlek
LOA: 200ft. (60.95m)
Waterline: 179ft. 10in. (51.80m)
Beam: 34ft. 9in. (10.60m)
Draft: 9ft. 6in. (2.90m)
Guests/Crew: 12 / captain + 14
Captain: Francisco Chadinha
Chef: Dieter Curth
Engines: Twin Catepillar 3512HD Rated at 1,850 hp at 1,600 rpm
Speed (Cruise): 15 knots
Speed (max.): 16 knots
Range: 4,800 miles at 12 knots
For more information, contact: benettiyachts.com or evankmarshall.com
For Charter information:
Peter Thompson: firstname.lastname@example.org +44 77 88 755 334