Dutch Will No Longer Dismantle Historic Bridge, Stranding Jeff Bezos's Yacht

Billionaire Jeff Bezos
Wikimedia Commons | Daniel Oberhaus

We've known for a long time that billionaires don't have to play by the same rules as the rest of us. But the news that a city in the Netherlands would be dismantling a historic bridge just to allow Jeff Bezos' superyacht to exit its harbor was apparently a bridge too far.

The city of Rotterdam has announced that it's changed course and won't dismantle the bridge — but big questions still remain.

Bezos recently had a new superyacht built.

A large private yacht
Unsplash | Viktor Ritsvall

Bezos, the world's second-richest person, has a net worth in the $140 billion range. With that money, he's been able to buy himself some splashy toys, including a custom yacht built by Oceanco, a company that specializes in this sort of thing.

The yacht was built in a Rotterdam shipyard.

An aerial view of Rotterdam, Netherlands
Wikimedia Commons | Robbie Klinkenberg

Rotterdam has a shipbuilding tradition dating back centuries, as its harbor at the mouth of the Nieuwe Maas Channel leads to open ocean via the North Sea. Bezos' yacht was built by some of these Dutch specialists in Rotterdam, but now it seems doubtful that the yacht will ever make it to the ocean.

The yacht is too tall to exit the harbor.

The Konigshaven Bridge in Rotterdam, Netherlands
Wikimedia Commons | Avalphen

In an example of terrible foresight, Bezos' three-masted yacht is too tall to get out of the harbor. The historic Konigshaven Bridge, better known as De Hef, spans the entrance to the harbor. The nearly century-old bridge has vertical lift capabilities, but it can't lift up high enough to accommodate Bezos' yacht.

The bridge would have to be dismantled.

The Konigshaven Bridge in Rotterdam, Netherlands
Wikimedia Commons | FotoSJORS

Earlier this year, reports indicated that the bridge would need to be dismantled to accommodate the yacht. The reports were confirmed by Rotterdam city officials, but they nearly immediately backtracked on the plan.

The plan was controversial.

The Konigshaven Bridge in Rotterdam, Netherlands
Wikimedia Commons | Magere Hein

Even though the dismantling would be temporary, the news that a billionaire's yacht would cause an important thoroughfare and city icon to be taken apart rubbed people the wrong way. Thousands of protesters pledged to throw eggs at the yacht at the site of the bridge.

It's official: the bridge won't be dismantled.

The Konigshaven Bridge in Rotterdam, Netherlands
Wikimedia Commons | Racingfreak

Last week, the New York Times reported that the bridge would stay intact. A Rotterdam city official said that Oceanco — the yacht's builder — had decided not to apply for a permit to dismantle the historic bridge.

It's kind of a confusing story.

A luxury yacht with white cliffs in the background
Unsplash | Claudio Poggio

It seems like a broken game of telephone: officials confirming, then denying, that the bridge would be dismantled, then deferring to the fact that the yacht builder hadn't applied for a permit. It's still unclear who, exactly, gave the green light to the plan in the first place.

We don't know how Bezos' yacht will get out of Rotterdam.

Rotterdam Harbor at sunset
Wikimedia Commons | 500px

The bridge was the only way for the yacht to get out of the harbor and then into open ocean. Bezos' yacht, which will reportedly be the largest in the world once it's completed, has no apparent way to get out of the harbor.

"It was unclear how Mr. Bezos' yacht would leave the area or whether Oceanco would finish the boat," reported the Times.

Bezos hasn't commented on his yacht conundrum.

Billionaire Jeff Bezos
Wikimedia Commons | Daniel Oberhaus

It's hard to have much sympathy for the plight of a guy with a twelve-figure net worth, but Bezos is facing quite the predicament here.

What do you think of this story? Feeling some schadenfreude? Be sure to share your thoughts in the comments.