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The full story behind Paul Allen's billion dollar toy fleet

BEAM Staff
June 7, 2018

Known worldwide as the co-founder of Microsoft, Paul Allen sits as the 44th richest person in the world with a net worth of $20 billion. To some, he is, however, more famous as the owner of one of the most significant fleet of yachts and private jets. Including the 18th largest yacht in the world amongst other things, Allen's fleet of toys is truly unique.

The largest component of Allen's fleet is the 126-meter Octopus. Built by Lurssen to a design by Espen Oeino, his superyacht became a clear definition of an explorer. Amongst its numerous amenities are a massive helipad with a basketball court, as well as her internal dock, which lets a submarine of up to 20 meters in length float up inside the yacht's storage space.

The largest explorer yacht in the world, Octopus can accommodate up to 26 guests thanks to her spacious staterooms and is operated by a crew of 60. Other amenities found onboard include a second helipad, a swimming pool and a music studio as well as a courtyard-like set up on the third deck of Octopus occupied by guest space.

According to Allen, "Octopus is less a Bentley than a Range Rover", thanks to her high end exploration equipment. As part of this, the yacht is fitted with two submarines, one of which can dive for up to 8 hours with 10 people on it, the second submarine can be remotely controlled. 

Thanks to this equipment, Allen and his crew were able to locate a WW2 era battleship at the bottom of the ocean in the Philippines. The billionaire had previously also made available his yacht to the Royal Navy in order to find a British battleship underwater. On a leisure side, Allen lent Mick Jagger the recording studio onboard for him to record an album in 2011, other performers have included Usher, U2 and Johnny Cash.

The location for star-studded parties in Cannes, Octopus in its glass-bottom pool is, however, only one of the yachts in Allen's yacht fleet. Built in 2001 by Nobiskrug, Tatoosh is a more luxury-orientated yacht that Allen also owns. 

Featuring an owner's suite spread across two decks, Tatoosh's master bedroom spreads across the full beam of the yacht and is linked to a family room, an observation lounge, a gym and a private office along with two children's cabin. In total the yacht can accommodate up to 20 people.

Measuring 92 meters in length, Tatoosh boasts a helipad, a heated swimming pool and a cinema amongst her many amenities. Similarly to Octopus, Tatoosh carries oversized tenders, one of which is a sailing yacht. Back in 2010, Allen decided to list the yacht on the market, putting up a €125 million price tag. At the time, it was the 26th largest yacht in the world.

In 2016, the 92-meter made international headlines when the Cayman Islands claimed that her anchor had done heavy damage to a coral reef. Following the incident, Allen was actively involved in the restoration of the reef itself. Tatoosh was ultimately taken off the market after failing to find a buyer at a high enough price, Allen's previous yacht, however did sell though.

After first entering the market at an asking price of $34.5 million, Meduse was eventually sold asking $25 million by Allen. Previously part of Allen's fleet, the 60-meter Feadship was built in 1996 and refitted in 2011. Featuring a large salon with a piano and 7 cabins, Meduse's skylounge could be used as a recording studio.

The smallest of Allen's yacht, the 46.9m Charade, was sold in 2014 at an asking price of $13.9 million.

In addition to his superyacht fleet, Allen is also active in the private aviation space. Most notably, Allen bought a private Boeing 757-200 from Qantas in 1995 and converted it into a luxurious private jet. After 15 years of active use, he sold the aircraft to Donald Trump, who repainted it into his colours and uses it as his flagship to this day.

iStock / Eric Tischler

Allen now reportedly owns a Gulfstream G650, one of the most expensive aircrafts in the world one can buy short of a modified version of a commercial aircraft. Having the range to fly from London to Sydney, such long-range private jets cost near $75 million to build. Allen's most significant contribution to aviation would, however, be his war plane collection, which he houses in a large hangar.

"I'd spend hours reading about the engines in some of those planes" Allen told Forbes. "I was trying to understand how things worked — how things were put together, everything from airplane engines to rockets and nuclear power plants. I was just intrigued by the complexity and the power and the grace of these things flying."

iStock / Maksym Dragunov

His World War II artefact collection started back in the 1990s. In 2004, Allen decided to open his collection of 31 military aircraft to the public, which sits in a hanger in Everett, Washington. Amongst them are aircrafts from both the German and Allies side, most of which have been in actual combat during the war.  In 2011, he spent millions acquiring a MiG-29 fighter jet.

Born in 1953 in Seattle, Allen is currently the 44th richest person in the world with a net worth of $20 billion according to Forbes. After befriending Bill Gates in high school, Allen teamed up with him to work on a joint interest of computers. After dropping out of university, he and Gates started Microsoft in 1975.

Allen spearheaded a deal for Microsoft to purchase a disk operating system from a Seattle-based developer, in order for Microsoft to be able to supply IBM with a system to support its PC line. This proved instrumental to Microsoft's success. Eventually, Allen left Microsoft in 1982 due to illness, officially resigning from the board of directors in 2000.  During this timeframe, Allen and Gates had a falling out.

After Microsoft's IPO and Allen's rise to billionaire status, he started Vulcan, his private investment arm, which invests across a variety of sectors and operates his yacht and jet fleet. Amongst its key assets is Charter Communications, the second largest cable company in the US, Ticketmaster. The family office also developed several real estate projects, selling an office building in Seattle to Amazon for $1.16 billion.

In addition to his business activity, Allen purchased the Portland Trail Blazers basketball team in 1988 for $70 million. He developed a new arena and backed the team to 19 playoff seasons. Currently, the team is valued at near $1 billion according to Forbes.

Eight years after his NBA franchise purchase, Allen acquired the Seattle Seahawks in 1996, for an undisclosed amount. The NFL sports team is now valued at $1.3 billion by Forbes. His sports division was later expanded when Allen took a part ownership in the Seattle Sounders Football Club, which competes in the MLS. 

Active in a variety of spaces, Paul Allen also helped produce several movies helped by his sister. He also heavily donated to charities, being named one of the most charitable Americans alive. In his spare time, Allen also plays in a band, which once released an album.

Lead photo iStock / Anncordon