Thu. Jun 30th, 2022

Part of a historic bridge in the Netherlands will be dismantled so that a superyacht built for Amazon’s founder, Jeff Bezos, can pass through the river that flows through Rotterdam, the city said on Thursday.

The middle part of the 95-year-old Koningshaven Bridge would be removed this summer so that the sailing yacht could pass, a spokeswoman for the city of Rotterdam said. The bridge, known locally as “De Hef,” will then be restored, potentially on the same day.

Mr. Bezos’s yacht should be able to fit under all the other bridges in Rotterdam, the spokeswoman said. She did not have an estimate of how much the deconstruction would cost but said that the shipbuilder, not residents of Rotterdam, would pay. There will not be any structural changes to the bridge.

A representatives for Amazon did not respond to requests for comment about the cost or the yacht’s destination. A spokeswoman for Oceanco, the Dutch custom yacht company that is building the boat, said in an email on Thursday that she could not comment on projects under construction or clients because of confidentiality reasons.

Boat International, which publishes articles about the superyacht industry, reported that the 417-foot sailboat is set to become the largest sailing yacht in the world when it is finished later this year, surpassing the Sea Cloud, a 360-foot sailboat built in 1931 and owned by the Yacht Portfolio, an investment company based in Malta.

The superyacht Mr. Bezos commissioned is likely to cost more than $500 million to build, Bloomberg reported. Mr. Bezos is the world’s second-richest person, after Tesla’s chief executive, Elon Musk.

The bridge, which has a boat clearance of 130 feet, is not currently in use. A Rotterdam tour guide, Eddy le Couvreur, said that the bridge, designed by the Dutch architect Pieter Joosting and a fixture in the Rotterdam skyline, was once used for railway traffic. A vertical lift bridge, it was the first of its kind in the Netherlands and was copied from examples in the United States. The modern industrial aesthetics of the bridge inspired a short film in 1928, he said.

Until now, tall ships passed under the bridge before assembling their masts and taller structures, he said.

Dennis Tak, a Labor Party city councilor for Rotterdam, said he was fine with the bridge being dismantled — since Mr. Bezos was paying for it — because of the jobs it would create with the work that needed to be done on the bridge. “As a city, this is a great way to take some of his money,” Mr. Tak said.

The structure is more than a bridge to the people of Rotterdam, said Siebe Thissen, the author of the book “The Boy Who Jumped From the Bridge,” about a working-class man who jumped from the bridge in 1933. “It’s a monument,” he said. “It’s the identity of Rotterdam.”

When city officials tried to take the bridge down in the 1990s, since it was not longer in use, there were major protests, he said. The bridge is a reminder of the old days in Rotterdam, he said.

“I think that’s why there his so much turmoil about Jeff Bezos and his boat,” he said, before referring to accusations against Amazon. “People say, ‘Why this guy?’ It’s a working-class town, and they all know that Jeff Bezos, of course, he exploits his workers, so people say, ‘Why should this guy be able demolish the bridge for his boat?’”

As of Thursday, about 500 Facebook users said they would attend an event, titled “Throwing eggs at superyacht Jeff Bezos,” where they gather by the bridge to throw eggs at the boat. A person listed as the event organizer did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Mr. le Couvreur, who works for the company Tours by Locals, which connects tourists with local guides, said Rotterdammers would likely enjoy the international attention and would watch the spectacle, he said. “On the other hand, it shows the unimaginable wealth that people like Bezos have created for themselves, that nothing can stand in the way for them living out their dreams and hobbies. Worlds apart from those who will be watching the ship pass through the city.”

Claire Moses contributed reporting.

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