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Star-studded Boats

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Illustration by Richard Clark

A beautifully maintained 1950 Chris-Craft Sportsman would turn the head of any classic-boat enthusiast. But what would make such a vessel even more desirable? How about if that classic boat had starred in a classic movie with a couple of Hollywood icons?

In January, an unidentified buyer won an eBay auction for just such an icon, Thayer IV, the 22-foot mahogany Chris-Craft that appeared in the movie On Golden Pond, starring Henry Fonda and Katharine Hepburn. The seller, Jamison Kohout of Maple Grove, Minnesota, said she went for $47,000. “There were a couple of boats used in the movie,” he explained. “One was destroyed for the crash scene where Henry Fonda’s character was thrown overboard. This is the remaining boat, regarded as the collector from the movie.”

Kohout sold the cruiser, along with documentation verifying its Hollywood lineage. He also admitted that he’d bought it only a year earlier as an investment and claims to have kept it in a climate-controlled garage the entire time. The 33-year-old mortgage loan officer told reporters he was reluctant to sell it, but “in the line of work I’m in, I wish I had a choice.”

Thayer IV is by no means the only famous boat to have benefited from a Hollywood lineage. In 2006, a Canadian boater picked up a much more famous boat for about twice the money. The S.S. Minnow, the original boat used in the 60’s TV show Gilligan’s Island, reportedly sold for $89,000 after being on the market for only a week. The new owner fully restored the aged twin-diesel 36-foot mahogany Wheeler Express Cruiser, and now offers “three-hour tours” off British Columbia’s Vancouver Island.

One of the best-known movie boats of all time, the shark-hunting Orca from Jaws, had a less-than-happy ending. After production of the film ended, a member of the film crew purchased the 39-footer for an undisclosed amount. He chartered the boat in the Los Angeles area for a few years before selling her back to the studio, which incorporated her into the Jaws ride at Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida. Unfortunately, the boat reportedly broke in half while being lifted from the water in 1996. Today her remains are said to be hidden away on the Universal Studios back lot.

This article originally appeared in the March 2009 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.