Despite international headlines to the contrary, the Dutch city of Rotterdam has not received any request to temporarily dismantle its historic Koningshavenbrug so a massive yacht owned by Jeff Bezos can pass, Algemeen Dagblad reported Thursday.
The yacht—a 127 m long, three-masted vessel with a hefty price tag of €424 million— is currently being built for the Amazon founder by Dutch firm Oceanco. The construction site lies in Alblasserdam, which is near Rotterdam. To reach the sea, it would have to pass through the Dutch port first.
City mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb, who is currently visiting Colombia to hold talks on ways to fight the drug trade, told reporters that no such decision had been made. Calling the turmoil “quite peculiar,” he said that his office had not even received a request for a permit. He went on to say that the municipality will make its decision after a permit application is filed and the impact has been assessed, which includes details on whether it can be done without damage to the bridge and whether Bezos will foot the bill. “It’s about the facts. I want to know them first,” he added.
His comments came one day after a municipality spokesperson told Agence France Presse that officials had green-lit a shipbuilder’s request to remove the central section of the bridge. “”It’s the only route to the sea,” the mayor’s spokesman told AFP, adding that Bezos would be paying for it. The premature statement sparked widespread criticism, and quickly became an international story.
The bridge, affectionately referred to by Rotterdammers as ‘De Hef,’ dates from 1878 and had to be rebuilt after the city was heavily bombed by the Nazis during WWII. It is one of the few remaining historical landmarks the city possesses. After it underwent a major renovation in 2017, the local council promised never again to dismantle it.
On Facebook, an event has been organized encouraging citizens of Rotterdam to assail Bezos’ yacht with rotten eggs when it passes underneath the temporarily dismantled bridge this summer. How to keep the hull of his superyacht yolk-free, is a question one of the world’s richest men is unlikely to lose much sleep over, however.