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Close Encounters

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Steven Spielberg may have riveted moviegoers with his depiction of the storming of Normandy in Saving Private Ryan, but he only irritated beach-goers when he took his own boat ashore while on vacation.


During a Mediterranean cruise in August, the Hollywood mogul anchored his 282-foot Seven Seas—No. 9 on PMY’s America’s Top 100 Yachts list—off northern Sardinia. Spielberg and several friends, including goddaughter Gwyneth Paltrow, reportedly took the tender for a cruise and decided to do some sunbathing near Porto Liscia—apparently missing the signs prohibiting motorboats within 300 meters of the beach. When they beached the boat and disembarked, a tourist phoned police claiming the tender had threatened swimmers. The Italian Coast Guard showed up in short order.

“When we arrived there was a bearded gentleman signing autographs on the beach. I recognized him instantly,” said Coast Guard officer Vincenzo Petrella. “He came up to me and said, ‘I’m Steven Spielberg. How can I help?’ I told him that regulations forbid tenders coming within 300 meters of the shore.” Petrella said that Spielberg was polite and apologetic.

“I said I had no other option but to fine him,” said Petrella, Spielberg promptly paid the €172 fine, equal to about $250.

The director, worth an estimated $3 billion, reportedly paid $360 million for the Oceanco yacht, which has two pools, a spa, and two theaters. Even the tender is lavish: It’s a 30-foot “custom limousine” built by Hodgdon Yachts in Maine and features a cabin with leather seats. It reportedly can hit a top speed of 35 mph.