By Diane M. Byrne
— December 2003
|The world’s most discerning interior designer unveils the latest plaything of one of the world’s richest yachtsmen.|
Look at the walls!” Roberto Malo Gusto commands, opening his arms wide to draw attention to the master stateroom we’re standing in. It’s really more of an apartment, considering we’re on the top level of the three-deck suite, looking down into the bedroom area, where tufted chamois, dyed in candy-cane stripes, lines every square inch. In fact, the padding is so thick, it’s practically bursting out from the edges of 1,500 solid-gold buttons (“not gold-plated,” Malo Gusto sniffs) strategically sewn from port to starboard and from overhead to sole behind the king-size bed, itself soon to be covered with a huge chinchilla spread.
I can hardly keep up with the designer as he swoops down a staircase made entirely of Waterford crystal, his fluttering fuchsia cape adding just the right contrast to his striped ensemble, which expertly matches the tufted chamois. Thankfully his cape is still visible as he dashes around the port corner into the suede-lined vault. Just as I catch up to Malo Gusto, he dashes to the other side of the 80-foot-wide apartment and into the master bath. Although it’s still under construction, I can tell that indirect lighting being inset behind the sheer onyx walls of the shower stalls (there are seven of them, “one for every day of the week,” Malo Gusto explains) will give the room a distinct glow.
“Isn’t it magnificent?” he asks breathlessly, not so much to elicit my opinion as to state fact. We’re onboard the 693-foot Sayonara, the aircraft carrier that multibillionaire Larry Ellison is having refitted. Ellison purchased the 17,000-ton, 58-year-old vessel, previously known as Vengeance, for a mere $4.5 million, to transform her and her 15 decks into the ultimate expedition yacht. And Malo Gusto is the famed creative genius he’s tapped to transform her into the world’s most luxurious yacht.
Creative indeed—Malo Gusto, with slicked-back black hair, eyebrows as thick as caterpillars, and a mind as sharp as the points of his long mustache, has overseen the interior design of no less than five award-winning yachts within the past 30 years, two aircraft carriers, two destroyers, and one minesweeper. If five yachts in three decades sounds like a small number, it’s only because, as the robust stylist says, “I’m an artiste. Greatness cannot be rushed.”
As an example, Malo Gusto flings open the first of ten pairs of lacquered-leather doors to Ellison’s “wardrobes” (each for a different set of clothes: one for suits, one for shoes, and so on). “It took me a year alone to do just this first room,” he says. He gestures for me to walk inside, and it’s here that I notice the walls are lined in pigskin. Upon closer inspection, I notice white stitching, much like that on a football, stretching from the sole of one end of the room up to the overhead, across it, and back down the opposite wall. “Something this elegant, this extraordinary, must be called a wardrobe. It cannot be referred to as a locker or, forbid, a closet,” he says emphatically.
This article originally appeared in the November 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.