Steve Jobs’s Last Masterpiece

Stefan Hofecker / Alamy

Last October, a year after his death, Steve Jobs’ final masterpiece, a 257-foot pleasure yacht he called Venus, was unveiled to a small group at the headquarters of legendary Dutch boat-builders Feadship. “I can clearly see the person behind it,” says British yacht designer Bill Dixon of the ship, which cost an estimated $140 million, with its giant glass walls surrounding the main deck and the captain’s bridge, where seven 27-inch iMacs stand side-by-side, controlling the vessel. “That incredibly pure, simple form, stripped back to the fundamentals.”

Jobs decided to build Venus after chartering yachts for family vacations to Mexico, the South Pacific, and the Mediterranean. Frustrated by the boats’ designs, he contacted Philippe Starck, the French restaurant, hotel, electronics, and yacht designer, and the two collaborated on Venus’ every detail for years. “I didn’t think I would be alive when it got done,” Steve Jobs told his biographer, Walter Isaacson. “But that made me so sad, and I decided that working on the design was fun to do.” (Jobs’s wife, Laurene, inherited Venus. It’s unclear if she intends to keep it, but the market for luxury yachts is very small.) The end result is a long, slender, high-sided hull with what looks like two interior decks – one mostly below the waterline and one above it. On top, Venus has two more decks, including the main cabin, which is sheathed in floor-to-ceiling glass, and the captain’s bridge. With its aluminum and glass, the silver-and-white Venus looks a bit like an Apple store – indeed, the chief engineer of Apple’s stores reportedly designed a special glass that was able to provide structural support for the boat.

Not everyone is impressed: The craft lacks a bulwark to shield the decks from waves, and the forward-facing glass facade of the main cabin is an obvious safety concern. “Maybe Steve, being a brilliant conceptualizer of all things Apple, didn’t quite understand that yachts have to cross oceans, to keep people safe,” says Evan K. Marshall, a London-based yacht designer. Starck, however, told the BBC that “every time there’s something new, people say stupid things. This…is…one of the best boats ever made.”

See also: The World’s Most Luxurious Yachts

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