Jeff Bezos, Rotterdam dismantles the historic city bridge to allow the billionaire’s yacht to pass

from Massimo Gaggi and Andrea Marinelli

The yacht built in the local shipyards will be the largest in the world. Not the first excess of the Amazon founder: for the donation of 200 million to the Smithsonian, he demanded that his name be displayed in several parts of the museum, and for at least 50 years

There is not enough room in the world for Jeff Bezos’ oversized ego. Certainly there is none Rotterdam, where the mayor has announced that he will temporarily dismantle a historic city bridge to allow the passage of the new, huge yacht of the founder of Amazon, 127 meters long and too high – 40 meters – to pass under Koningshaven, which is a national monument in the Netherlands. During the summer, the central section of the iron bridge, which dates back to 1878 and which the locals call De Hef, will be removed to allow navigation along the yacht’s canal. built in the Dutch shipyards Oceanco and cost 430 million dollars. The decision, leaked yesterday in the local press and confirmed by the mayor’s spokesman, sparked obvious controversy, also because the bridge – bombed by the Nazis during the Second World War – had been the subject of a major restoration between 2014 and 2017, years in which remained closed, and city officials had promised it would not happen again: the mayor’s office defended itself by arguing that the construction of the yacht has secured jobsand has promised that the bridge will be rebuilt identically within a couple of weeks, obviously at Bezos’ expense.

the only route to the sea, the spokesman of the mayor justified himself. Rotterdam, according to project leader Marcel Walravens, who supervised the construction of the yacht, the maritime capital of Europeand this project was too important from an economic point of view: Shipyards are a pillar of the municipality, he told the site Rijnmond, and finishing the construction elsewhere would not have been practical. According to the magazine Boat InternationalY721 – this is the name by which the boat is known for now – sar the largest sailboat in the world, perfect for the boundless ambitions of the one who is currently the third richest man on the planet with assets of 175 billion. Money that the founder of Amazon – as well as owner of the Washington Post and the space company Blue Origin, among other things – likes to spend money to secure a prominent place in American society, as happened with $ 200 million donation to the Smithsonian Institution announced last July. Apparently, however, that check was not written off by Bezos, 57, for disinterested love of science and his disclosure. The billionaire asked in exchange for the commitment of the largest American museum institution to exhibit his name in several places and for at least 50 years.

And he also wanted it to be specified, in black and white, where he wants his name to be depicted: another occasion for sarcasm for Elon Musk, the billionaire who has surpassed Bezos in space missions and for wealth and who has a lot of fun making fun of him on social media. When the donation, the largest in the history of the Smithsonian, was announced, public attention was limited. Bezos was making headlines especially for his upcoming suborbital flight aboard the first spaceship of his Blue Origin. The details of the donation agreement are only now coming out and they are curious, even if the rich benefactors of cultural institutions have always been celebrated by naming museum pavilions, theaters, libraries, university classrooms. Bezos demanded more: the agreement specifically provides, for example, that his name appears in the Bezos Learning Center which will be inaugurated in 2026both on the facade facing the Mall and Jefferson Avenue, and on the Independence Avenue side.

It will also have to appear inside the museum, starting from the entrance to the pavilion, e seeing oneself in transparency in a new glass sculpture. The Washington Post then realized that the agreement, voted on by the board of the Smithsonian which includes, among others, Vice President Kamala Harris and the President of the Supreme Court John Roberts, it does not contain an ethical clause that allows the museum to evade its commitment whether in the future Bezos’ behavior will be such as to damage the reputation of the institution, as happened in the case of the Sacklers: the name of the family of billionaires was canceled from museums and universities that had received their donations after his direct responsibilities in the pressure to spread Oxycontin everywhere, the drug of his Purdue Pharma considered the main culprit in the massacre of opioid abuse that killed at least half a million Americans over the span of twenty years.

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