A bridge at the center of controversy in the maritime capital of Europe — which has become a structure symbolizing the excesses of wealth — will not be temporarily dismantled to make way for Jeff Bezos’ new superyacht.
In February, Oceanco, the Dutch boatbuilder of Bezos’ beast, lobbied the city of Rotterdam, Holland, to temporarily deconstruct the middle section of the 95-year-old, decommissioned, national-heritage-landmark Koningshaven railway bridge, also known as “De ‘Hef,” to accommodate the passage of Y721, which, at 417-ft, would be one of the largest sailing yachts in the world. The New York Times said that the necessary work on the bridge would take about two days total, according to a spokesman for the city of Rotterdam.
Recently, Rotterdam city officials said that Oceanco had “informed the municipality that it is cancelling its current logistical plans,” according to the Independent, which said that employees at Oceanco “feel threatened, and the company fears it will be vandalized.”
After the proposal to dismantle De Hef became public, an event was organized to throw eggs at Y721 when it transited Rotterdam’s canals.
In February, the project leader of Y721 said, “It wouldn’t be practical to finish the project elsewhere, which is why Oceanco and Bezos initially agreed that the De Hef needed to be dismantled, rather than moving the superyacht prior to its completion,” according to Dmarge.
The fate of Y721 is now uncertain. “It was unclear how Mr. Bezos’ yacht would leave the area or whether Oceanco would finish the boat,” the Times reported. Will Y721 become the largest and most expensive Airbnb in the world? Will it become a homeless shelter? (Although a socialist country, the Netherlands has a homeless population of around 40,000 people.)
As we said in February, the De Hef bridge has come to symbolize something more than the sum of its parts.
Even though the dis- and re-mantling process would be paid for by Oceanco and relatively quick and painless, a line has clearly been crossed. We don’t know what percentage of the generally well-off, high-standard-of-living population in Holland objects to the passage of the Amazon founder’s megayacht to the point of wanting to hurl rotten eggs at it, but news of the proposed dismantling became a political rallying point. “If Jeff Bezos can afford to dismantle a bridge in Europe, you know what? Mr. Bezos can afford to pay his share of taxes to build a bridge out of poverty for working-class families in America,” Senator Bernie Sanders said.
Clearly, messing with De Hef was a bridge too far.