Fighting off the hordes of annoying paparazzi is a full time business for many celebrities as late Princess Diana knew all too well after being snapped with her lover Dodi on a yacht in the French Riviera. But how does one famous enough to attract those camera-wielding critters on two legs protect oneself against the ever annoying press?
The answer is; it’s hard unless your name is Roman Abramovich, and you are a Russian oligarch clever enough to have come up with a novel solution to protect his privacy.
Abramovich has installed an anti-paparazzi shield on his newest yacht Eclipse- the world’s biggest and most expensive private yacht to deflect the pack. His new invention could soon become standard procedure for the rest of the world’s billionaires in order to starve off happy-snappers.
Measuring up to 557ft Eclipse relies on lasers to block any digital camera lenses nearby.
Eclipse was seen to leave port in Hamburg last week on its maiden voyage and some observers believe that the vessel has ended up being double the cost since being commissioned and ending up costing the Russian £724m.
Eclipse is carrying 150 engineers and maritime experts who will put it through its paces over 10 days. One witness described the boat as ‘a great white castle on water.’
This is the fourth yacht in Abramovich’s private fleet and it is an understated vessel of pure luxury. Guest can luxuriate with:
- two helipads
- two swimming pools (the larger one doubles up as a dance floor when drained)
- and 6ft-wide home cinema screens in all 24 guest cabins.
A retractable roof is built into the master suite to allow the Chelsea football club owner and his girlfriend, Daria Zukhova to sleep under the stars.
The yacht’s hull and windows are capable of withstanding a missile attack to protect the residents against piracy on the high seas. There is also a mini-submarine for emergencies.
Once Eclipse leaves the Blohm + Voss German shipyard, it will be fitted with a missile defence system in France.
The 42-year old magnate has been making regular trips to Hamburg to oversee the vessel’s construction. Delivery is expected on December 22, 2009, just in time for Xmas.
Many expect to see the luxury yacht in South Africa as a boy toy for the 2010 World Cup.
Because of confidentiality clauses in the contracts a definite size of the yacht couldn’t be confirmed at this stage. A spokesman for Thyssen Krupp said this weekend: “It will be the largest private yacht of all time.”
Currently a Dubai vessel owned by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum holds the record for being the largest yacht in the world at 524 ft.
The Russian already owns the world’s biggest private jet, a Boeing 767 nicknamed “the Bandit.”
Eclipse is expected to feature a crew of at least 60 people. There is also talk of a security team made up of hand-picked former veterans of the French Foreign Legion.
The anti-paparazzi “shield” is definitely the most talked about feature on Eclipse and if proven useful there will probably be a lot of orders for the same from other high-profile celebrities.
Infrared lasers detect the electronic light sensors in nearby cameras, known as charge-coupled devices. When the system detects such a device, it fires a focused beam of light at the camera, disrupting its ability to record a digital image.