OPINION: The Secret Life of Superyacht Valuations


‘A cynic is a man who knows the price of everything, and the value of nothing.’ That quip by Lord Darlington, a character in Oscar Wilde’s play Lady Windermere’s Fan is probably as true today as it was when the Wilde play was first staged in 1893.

So, how would you feel about parting with a cool $2,000 dollars for a burger and chips? Or perhaps a bottle of whisky for $460,000 dollars? $2 million dollars for a pair of smart shoes?

If I was to tell you that the world’s record-breaking burger contained wagyu steak, lobster, caviar, foie gras, truffle and a 24-carat gold leaf then maybe you would start to see the value.

And that bottle of whisky… well it was one of only four ever made in the whole world.

And those shoes by Tom Ford are handmade with 14,000 full-cut round white diamonds set onto white gold.

The point is you can only start to understand the true value of something when you know the finer details.

When it comes to valuing superyachts no-one knows the details as meticulously as a marine surveyor.

The valuations undertaken by a marine surveyor are most often requested by a bank or lender, keen to limit the risk in lending and wanting to ensure they have the most accurate value. Each superyacht is, after all, unique.

Banks recruit marine surveyors because they can be sure that they are independent and protected against legal reprisals.

It’s the responsibility of the surveyor to use experience and knowledge to assess the yacht’s value so the bank can lend with confidence.

A surveyor can travel all around the world to value superyachts, but it may surprise you that many valuations are carried out from the comfort of the surveyor’s office. That’s where skill and experience come in. And this specific expertise is so rare that only a handful are skilled enough and courageous enough to operate in this risk-averse sector.

We spoke with Winterbothams and Ward & McKenzie to take a peek into the arcane life of a superyacht surveyor.

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