The mayor of a Dutch city denied Dutch press reports that it will temporarily disassemble a bridge built in 1927 to make room for Amazon founder Jeff Bezos’ mega-yacht.
Rotterdam Mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb told Dutch paper Algemeen Dagblad that “No decision has been made yet,” noting that neither Bezos nor his yacht’s maker have applied for a permit to take down part of the bridge.
The Amazon founder’s $500 million boat, built by Netherlands-based Oceanco and scheduled to be completed soon, measures 417 feet long and must pass through Rotterdam, under its landmark bridge, to reach its owner, NL Times reported. The problem? The Koninginnebrug bridge, a steel bridge nicknamed De Hef, isn’t tall enough to accommodate the ship’s three masts, which exceed the 130 feet of clearance the bridge offers.
Dutch press reports said that the city would remove the central section of the bridge to make way for the yacht, the largest ever built in the Netherlands.
Rotterdam officials were said to have yielded to the billionaire, the world’s second-richest person, given the significance of the project to the local economy. Rotterdam council project leader Marcel Walravens called the construction of the superyacht “a very important project” economically, according to local broadcaster Rijnmond. Dismantling the bridge was the “only alternative,” he said.
Oceano had agreed to pay for the cost of dismantling operation, Rotterdam spokesperson Frances Van Heijst told the NL Times. It’s unclear if Bezos, who is worth roughly $176 billion, would pay for any of the disassembly cost.
The shipbuilder did not reply to a request for comment from CBS MoneyWatch.
Aboutaleb, the mayor, said the controversial undertaking remains under consideration, but that Bezos still lacks the official approval to move forward. He also said Bezos’ wealth and status will not influence his decision.
“That has absolutely nothing do with this decision. It’s about the facts. I want to know them first,” Aboutaleb told the Dutch language newspaper.
Some locals oppose altering the bridge on behalf of one of the richest people on the planet. Protesters have organized an event on Facebook at which they vowed to gather to throw eggs at Bezos’ yacht when it passes under the bridge, scheduled for June.
“Rotterdam was built from the rubble by the people of Rotterdam, and we don’t just take that apart for the phallic symbol of a megalomaniac billionaire. Not without a fight!!” event organizers wrote on Facebook.