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Friday, June 22, 2018


New Zealand's Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, gave birth yesterday, Matariki.

This delightful cartoon appeared in today's papers.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

The little off-road bookstore

Catherine Groenestein

Patrick McKenna always has several books on the go between customers in his Waverley second hand book shop.

Patrick McKenna doesn't get a lot of customers at his book shop and that's just the way he likes it. 

The Book Bank is located in a former bank in the small South Taranaki town of Waverley. 

With just under 800 residents there's not much foot traffic and McKenna gets plenty of time to read his own products.

"This place doesn't make a lot of money, it's more of a hobby, but I'm a pensioner so that doesn't matter. It pays its own way," he said. 

"I'm at the age you don't have to be anybody. Ambition is dead, you are who you're going to be, so enjoy it. If you haven't made it by now, you're never going to."

Prior to moving to Waverley McKenna was an antiques dealer and ran a bookshop in the Wairarapa. He's also a musician.

Patrick McKenna's Waverley bookshop used to be a bank, in 1903.

He moved north with his wife Raewyn after seeing the century-old former bank for sale online in 2016. 

"We liked the idea of a place we could live and work from," he said. 

They live above the shop and can see the sea from the garden behind the building. There are musical instruments in the strong room, and there's no road noise, thanks to the 10mm glass in the windows from the banking days.

McKenna gathers stock from book fairs, op shops and people clearing out a house or downsizing.

"People our age don't like to throw away books, so they bring them here. I got eight banana boxes of war books recently, and they're good ones, from the 1950s. I've sold some already."

Inside the sunny shop, rows of classics including Steinbeck, Austen, Dickens, Shakespeare and Hemingway face shelves of philosophers and tomes on language and linguistics.

A Taranaki section has books about shipwrecks, pioneers and traders, monuments and the mountain.

Nearby there's Maori, history, biographies, war and philosophy, explorers and politics.

In a room to one side books on art, architecture and artists line the shelves around an oak table - McKenna's reading spot.

He likes the stories hidden within the stories.

"Quite often there are little things tucked into the pages of a book you never expect to find - art union tickets, war tokens, photos and flowers."

The inscriptions written into the fly leafs of others hint of their past.
"This room is full of voices and thoughts that people have put down."

When a customer does come in, he's happy to chat, find out what authors they have enjoyed, and suggest others they will like too.

A lot of his customers are older people who love rare and classic books.

One Auckland couple recently detoured through Taranaki en-route to Wellington to visit the shop, he said.

He worries about falling literacy rates, and the lack of reading among younger people.

"You pick up a book and suddenly you drop into that world. We're losing that."

With thanks to Don Gilling

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Scoundrels and Eccentrics of the Pacific -- book launch at Unity Books, Wellington

Lunchtime Event | Scoundrels & Eccentrics of the Pacific by John Dunmore | Thursday 14th June, 12-12:45pm

Scoundrels & Eccentrics of the Pacific

Come and hear author John Dunmore, author of Scoundrels & Eccentrics of the Pacific,  in conversation with Lydia Wevers.

In-store at Unity Books Wellington
Thursday 14th June, 12-12:45pm

Scoundrels & Eccentrics of the Pacific is a collection of tales of the men, and in some cases the women, who sought to benefit from the discoveries of the early explorers.
They were mostly scoundrels and rogues with little conscience but great craftiness, and they left in their wake others who found themselves victims of unimaginable situations.
Here are the adventurers who once made the great Pacific their playground — from likeable dreamers to outright con-men, slavers and pirates, and even one self-titled Queen Emma.
There’s the extraordinary tale of James Proctor who used his wooden leg to trick natives into coming aboard his ship so he could spirit them away as slaves; or the French priest Fr Rougier who used his position to amass a fortune, eventually becoming the ‘King of Christmas Island’.
Along with rollicking tales of the outrageous and bizarre, there are gloomy accounts of those fallen prey to human trafficking, goldfield fever and unscrupulous traders.
It shows that mankind, in whatever period and whatever part of the world, may have its heroes, but always has its villains.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Bolthole for the super rich

Forget the fact that New Zealand is a shaky country.  Forget the fact that there is a long pre-history of devastation wrought by gigantic waves (see the map above).  The super-rich of Trump's America, convinced that apocalypse is nigh, are setting up boltholes in our faraway land.

As a real estate agent observed, we used to talk about the tyranny of distance.  Now, in the minds of the fearful super rich, that distance is a distinct asset.

An article in the New Yorker (January 2017) says it all.  Some extracts ....

How many wealthy Americans are really making preparations for a catastrophe? It’s hard to know exactly; a lot of people don’t like to talk about it. (“Anonymity is priceless,” one hedge-fund manager told me, declining an interview.) Sometimes the topic emerges in unexpected ways. Reid Hoffman, the co-founder of LinkedIn and a prominent investor, recalls telling a friend that he was thinking of visiting New Zealand. “Oh, are you going to get apocalypse insurance?” the friend asked. “I’m, like, Huh?” Hoffman told me. New Zealand, he discovered, is a favored refuge in the event of a cataclysm. Hoffman said, “Saying you’re ‘buying a house in New Zealand’ is kind of a wink, wink, say no more. Once you’ve done the Masonic handshake, they’ll be, like, ‘Oh, you know, I have a broker who sells old ICBM silos, and they’re nuclear-hardened, and they kind of look like they would be interesting to live in.’ ”


By January, 2015, [Robert] Johnson, [managing director of Soros Fund Management] was sounding the alarm: the tensions produced by acute income inequality were becoming so pronounced that some of the world’s wealthiest people were taking steps to protect themselves. At the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Johnson told the audience, “I know hedge-fund managers all over the world who are buying airstrips and farms in places like New Zealand because they think they need a getaway.”


In the first seven days after Donald Trump’s election, 13,401 Americans registered with New Zealand’s immigration authorities, the first official step toward seeking residency—more than seventeen times the usual rate. The New Zealand Herald reported the surge beneath the headline “trump apocalypse.”

In fact, the influx had begun well before Trump’s victory. In the first ten months of 2016, foreigners bought nearly fourteen hundred square miles of land in New Zealand, more than quadruple what they bought in the same period the previous year, according to the government. American buyers were second only to Australians. The U.S. government does not keep a tally of Americans who own second or third homes overseas. Much as Switzerland once drew Americans with the promise of secrecy, and Uruguay tempted them with private banks, New Zealand offers security and distance. In the past six years, nearly a thousand foreigners have acquired residency there under programs that mandate certain types of investment of at least a million dollars.

Jack Matthews, an American who is the chairman of MediaWorks, a large New Zealand broadcaster, told me, “I think, in the back of people’s minds, frankly, is that, if the world really goes to shit, New Zealand is a First World country, completely self-sufficient, if necessary—energy, water, food. Life would deteriorate, but it would not collapse.” As someone who views American politics from a distance, he said, “The difference between New Zealand and the U.S., to a large extent, is that people who disagree with each other can still talk to each other about it here. It’s a tiny little place, and there’s no anonymity. People have to actually have a degree of civility.”


Peter Campbell, the managing director of Triple Star Management, a New Zealand construction firm, told me that, by and large, once his American clients arrive, they decide that underground shelters are gratuitous. “It’s not like you need to build a bunker under your front lawn, because you’re several thousand miles away from the White House,” he said. Americans have other requests. “Definitely, helipads are a big one,” he said. “You can fly a private jet into Queenstown or a private jet into Wanaka, and then you can grab a helicopter and it can take you and land you at your property.” American clients have also sought strategic advice. “They’re asking, ‘Where in New Zealand is not going to be long-term affected by rising sea levels?’ ”

The growing foreign appetite for New Zealand property has generated a backlash. The Campaign Against Foreign Control of Aotearoa—the Maori name for New Zealand—opposes sales to foreigners. In particular, the attention of American survivalists has generated resentment. In a discussion about New Zealand on the Modern Survivalist, a prepper Web site, a commentator wrote, “Yanks, get this in your heads. Aotearoa NZ is not your little last resort safe haven.”

An American hedge-fund manager in his forties—tall, tanned, athletic—recently bought two houses in New Zealand and acquired local residency. He agreed to tell me about his thinking, if I would not publish his name. Brought up on the East Coast, he said, over coffee, that he expects America to face at least a decade of political turmoil, including racial tension, polarization, and a rapidly aging population. “The country has turned into the New York area, the California area, and then everyone else is wildly different in the middle,” he said. He worries that the economy will suffer if Washington scrambles to fund Social Security and Medicare for people who need it. “Do you default on that obligation? Or do you print more money to give to them? What does that do to the value of the dollar? It’s not a next-year problem, but it’s not fifty years away, either.”

New Zealand’s reputation for attracting doomsayers is so well known in the hedge-fund manager’s circle that he prefers to differentiate himself from earlier arrivals. He said, “This is no longer about a handful of freaks worried about the world ending.” He laughed, and added, “Unless I’m one of those freaks.”

But what about New Zealanders, when that apocalypse happens?  Those refugee Americans will want pilots for their private planes and helicopters; they want nurses and doctors, teachers and mechanics.  And, most of all, they will need food and water.  Are we expected to provide all those, at a time when everyone's need is critical?  Just because they are obscenely rich?

Little wonder that it is a major issue for our new government -- one that many Americans would consider unacceptably socialist.

Monday, June 11, 2018

The yacht Equanimity

The plot thickens ...

More on the luxury yacht Equanimity, and the scandal that surrounds her.

Controversially -- like everything else about this murky international affair -- the yacht was legally released from her captors in Indonesia, in April, to be returned to her owners -- on paper.  Meantime, however, there has been a shock election result in Malaysia, and so the plot begins to unravel.

Or maybe not.

From a story by Richard Paddock in the NYTimes

 Malaysia’s new leader is moving aggressively to investigate the apparent theft of billions of dollars from a state investment fund under the previous government, including seeking the arrest of a key figure in the scandal, the financier Jho Low.
The United States Department of Justice estimates that $4.5 billion went missing from the fund, 1 Malaysia Development Berhad, known as 1MDB, which was established and overseen by the former prime minister Najib Razak — including $731 million that it says was deposited into Mr. Najib’s own bank accounts.
Mr. Najib, who denies any wrongdoing, suffered a surprise election defeatlast month at the hands of Mahathir Mohamad, 92, who had previously served more than two decades as prime minister before retiring at 78.
Back in office, Mr. Mahathir has made investigating the scandal and recovering the money a top priority.

Mr. Najib and his wife, Rosmah Mansor, have been barred from leaving the country while investigations continue. Authorities raided residences associated with the couple nine days after the election and confiscated more than 350 boxes and pieces of luggage containing luxury handbags, jewelry, watches and $28.6 million in cash.
Mr. Mahathir told reporters on Friday that the authorities were now seeking Mr. Low over activities related to the fund. Mr. Low, a Malaysian, helped set up 1MDB after its founding in 2009 and, though he never held an official position at the fund, has been described by authorities in the United States as a key figure in moving money out of it.

“We are trying to arrest Jho Low,” the prime minister told reporters. “He is not in the country and we don’t have extradition rights in the country where he is staying.”
When asked what country that was, he said, “many countries.”
Mr. Low was a friend of Mr. Najib’s stepson, Riza Aziz, whose production company, Red Granite Pictures, later used money said to be from 1MDB to produce Hollywood movies, including “The Wolf of Wall Street.”
Red Granite reached an agreement in March to pay $60 million to settle an assets seizure lawsuit filed by the United States Justice Department.
Mr. Low, who spent millions of dollars on gifts to celebrities such as the actor Leonardo DiCaprio and the model Miranda Kerr, has been sighted in various parts of Asia in recent years.
In February, the United States asked Indonesia to seize a 300-foot megayacht, the Equanimity, that it said Mr. Low had bought with $250 million from 1MDB. But an Indonesian judge later ordered the vessel released, saying that the authorities had not followed proper procedures.
Mr. Mahathir’s new attorney general, Tommy Thomas, said on Wednesday on taking office that 1MDB would be the government’s “first and immediate priority.”
“We shall institute criminal and civil proceedings in our courts against the alleged wrongdoers,” he told reporters. “All are equal before the law and no one will be spared. There will be no cover-up.”
He said Malaysia would cooperate with the United States, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Singapore and other countries that had been investigating the use of their financial systems to hide the missing money.
Another key figure appointed by Mr. Mahathir is Mohd Shukri Abdull, who will head the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission.former deputy commissioner of the agency, he said last month that he had fled in fear of his life and sought police protection in the United States after Mr. Najib fired officials who had raised questions about corruption at the fund.
The commission has called Mr. Najib and Ms. Mansor in separately to give statements, and issued a public appeal last week for Mr. Low to contact it and assist in the investigation.
An international law firm published a reply on Mr. Low’s behalf. It said that he was ready to help investigators, but did not indicate where he was.

Cynthia Gabriel, executive director of the Center to Combat Corruption and Cronyism in Kuala Lumpur and a harsh critic of Mr. Najib, praised the new government’s actions as a “remarkable effort so far.”But she noted that the investigation is complex and that Malaysia had only just begun to work with investigators in other countries.

“There are a lot of dots to connect to arrive at the final outcome,” she said. “Investigations are progressing but it could take longer than expected.”

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Bats in the Library

More from the Smithsonian -- and a lot more relevant to The World of  the Written Word, though it still relates to normally repulsive animals.

There are libraries in Portugal, it seems, that welcome the presence of their resident bats.  The bats eat the insects that would gnaw into the priceless old books, and sing in their peculiar way when it is beginning to rain, and are pleasant residents altogether.  There is the problem of their droppings, which are collected by special animal skin covers that are laid over the old, old tables at night, and which have to be shaken and cleaned by the librarians every morning, but it's just part of the job, undertaken cheerfully.


Do not pick up a snake's head -- particularly if it is a rattlesnake

Like all New Zealanders -- our little country being free of poisonous creatures, apart from a relatively harmless spider -- I am totally terrified of snakes.  I have snakephobia.

Therefore, I was fascinated to read this grisly little story in the Smithsonian.

When Texas local Jennifer Sutcliffe discovered a four-foot Western diamondback rattlesnake nestled amongst the flowers in her yard, she reacted like most people in her situation would—with a scream. Jennifer’s husband Jeremy rushed over and decapitated the snake with a shovel, but when he bent down to pick up its severed head several minutes later, he received a nasty surprise.
“The head actually turned around and grabbed onto his hand,” Jennifer tells Global News’ Katie Dangerfield. “He had to rip the snake’s head off. He got all of the snake’s venom in the bite.”
According to The Washington Post’s Allyson Chiu, Jennifer immediately started driving Jeremy to the hospital, calling 911 in hopes of locating a nearby facility that had the appropriate antivenom. The closest match was about an hour away, but within two miles of the couple’s home, Jeremy began losing consciousness, suffering from loss of vision and mini seizures. Eventually, medical professionals were forced to airlift him to the hospital.
Local news station KIIITV reports that doctors initially told Jennifer her husband might not survive the attack. Chiu writes that Jeremy went into septic shock and experienced internal bleeding. He was then put into a coma and placed on a ventilator, as his organs had begun shutting down.
On May 31, four days after his admission to the hospital, Jeremy came out of his coma. He is currently in stable condition, but according to Dangerfield, is far from back to normal. In addition to experiencing acute renal failure, he will require “aggressive wound care” for his hand.
Doctors needed 26 doses of antivenom to stabilize Jeremy. Although early reports indicated that typical bite cases are treated with two to four doses, Leslie Boyer, antivenom doctor and founding director of the University of Arizona VIPER Institute, tells Gizmodo’s Jennings Brown that 26 vials is just over the average amount usually required.
Jeremy may not have expected a decapitated snake to pose any danger to him, but according to National Geographic’s Stephen Leahy, snakes actually maintain their bite reflexes in the hours after death.
University of Cincinnati biology professor Bruce Jayne tells Leahy that a snake’s nervous system can respond to stimulus without needing the brain to send a signal. In Jeremy’s case, the severed head reacted to him trying to pick it up.
Science Alerts Michelle Starr further explains that snakes and similarly cold-blooded animals can survive without oxygen for short periods of time, as they do not generate their own heat and therefore require a lower supply of energy and oxygen.
“The head end of a cut-up rattlesnake can continue to function, including the venom glands, for a long time afterward and, in fact, the other half continues to work,” Boyer tells Gizmodo. “It’ll rise and rattle.”
Jayne and Boyer advise individuals faced with similar reptilian dilemmas to leave the snake alone or call an expert to remove it. Boyer warns against decapitating or otherwise killing a snake, saying, “It’s cruel to the animal and it leaves you with a smaller piece that’s venomous to pick up."
Obviously, that means the venom is concentrated.

Friday, June 8, 2018

Dutch smoked eel trade revisited.

In the old days, boats plied the canals of Amsterdam, selling a Dutch delicacy, smoked eel.

Now one man is reviving the trade.  And do try to look at the video clip of old Amsterdam.  It is charming -- and very evocative of the Good Old Days.  If it doesn't come up in this post, hit the link to the Guardian.

From the Guardian

“Eeeeelll, freshly smoked eeeeelll!” These words are once again echoing along the canals of Amsterdam. Half a century after the city’s last parlevinker – or boat-based travelling salesman – dropped anchor, Bas Oosterbaan is reviving the practice.
Early every morning, the 57-year-old skewers a dozen slippery specimens and raises them above the fire to let the smoke do its work. Later he casts off and sets course along central Amsterdam’s canals in search of customers.
The trick, he says, is to get their attention: a bell, his voice and loud music – classical or old-Amsterdam singalongs, depending on the neighbourhood. Almost everyone on the street looks up when Oosterbaan sails past, hollering and ringing his bell – but only real Amsterdammers buy his eels.
“Tourists don’t understand what I’m doing, let alone what I’m selling,” he explains. “Smoked eel is a typical Dutch delicacy – one of the few.”
Oosterbaan and his eels are a novelty – but selling from a boat on the city’s canals is not a new idea. Parlevinkers – combining two Dutch specialties: the trading spirit and water – used to be common here.
But somehow these salesmen on small boats disappeared; not just in Amsterdam, but throughout the Netherlands. The last Dutch parlevinker is thought to have sailed away in 2008 – long after the last one left Amsterdam, sometime around 1965.
Oosterbaan didn’t set out to revive this historic trade. Six months ago, he had accepted a job as head of the food department at a university in Amsterdam. But he had never worked anywhere for long: he’d always get bored after a while, or get into trouble. So after a few weeks, when he was fired again, he started to question himself. In search of answers, he started to sail the lakes of Friesland, a province in the north of the Netherlands. It was here that he first got a taste for smoked eel, and began to sell a few.
When someone suggested moving his business to the canals of Amsterdam, Oosterbaan, with nothing to lose, set sail. Arriving in midwinter to a city dusted with snow and ice, he found that curious Amsterdammers would flock to his boat – attracted by his singing and the smoking barrel on the stern.
Soon the snow melted and it was spring. The days became longer; the business better. Recently he was featured in the Amsterdam newspaper Het Parool, and even Oosterbaan can’t deny his status as some kind of local hero.
Away from Amsterdam’s crowded streets and streams of tourists, there is space on the water – and Oosterbaan and his eels may yet kickstart the rebirth of the parlevinker. There are rumours that a baker has started to sell fresh bread from a boat (though he remains under the radar because he lacks the vendor’s permits).
As for Oosterbaan himself? He can’t stop singing. “Eeeeelll! Freshly smoked eeeeelll!”
Follow Guardian Cities on TwitterFacebook and Instagram to join the discussion, and explore our archive here

Thursday, June 7, 2018

The Discovery of Tahiti

The Discovery of Tahiti -- the Voyage of the Dolphin

Romance and the islands have gone hand-in-hand since the bare-breasted young women of Tahiti gave a rousing welcome to the 18th-century European adventurers who discovered the island. It was not just a tropical port of call that Captain Wallis and his men found, but their tales of golden girls and a majestic island queen became a foundation stone of the Romantic Movement, an enduring inspiration for writers, artists, filmmakers ... mutineers. 

Joan Druett follows up her prize-winning biography of the remarkable priestly navigator, Tupaia, by bringing this extraordinary story to life.

The $500 million yacht...

They say that there are only two happy days when you own a boat -- the day you buy it, and the day you sell it.  But this must be the most convoluted history of a boat I've ever read.

From the New York Times

Russian oligarch's $500 million yacht Luna is stranded in Dubai, because of the costliest divorce in British history.

June 6, 2018

With a spa, a swimming pool, two heliports and room for 18 guests, the Luna is more like a floating luxury villa than a yacht. A crew of 50 keep all nine decks in pristine shape. The lifeboats cost $4 million apiece. Gleaming engines propel the vessel at a maximum speed of 22 knots. 

Built by Lloyd Werft of Bremerhaven, Germany, Luna, 115 metres (377 ft) long, is the second largest expedition yacht in the world, and the 23rd largest luxury yacht, valued at over €400m euros  --approx. US$545 million  -- as of April 2010.  She is currently owned by the defendant in a very controversial divorce action, Russian billionaire Farkhad Akhmedov.

One would assume that he enjoyed the occasional jaunt (though that, too, is debatable), but for now, as Segal goes on to say, the Luna isn’t moving. She sits in a dry dock in Dubai, the most fought-over prize in what has been called Britain’s most expensive divorce.

In December 2016, a High Court judge ordered Akhmedov, a Russian billionaire who has owned a home in England since the ’90s, to pay the equivalent of $646 million to his ex-wife, Tatiana Akhmedova. He refused, arguing that the couple had been divorced in Russia more than a decade ago.

But, it seems, the divorce was a fake, and the papers were forged.  Or so it is claimed.

Unconvinced and unable to enforce his ruling, the judge in April ordered Mr. Akhmedov to hand over the yacht, valued at roughly $500 million, to his ex-wife. It has since been impounded by authorities in Dubai, where it had turned up for maintenance.

For more than a decade, Russian oligarchs have been parking their families and some chunk of their net worth in England. A deal was implied: The oligarchs got a haven from the pitiless realities of Putin-era Russia, and Britain got an influx of very rich people.

Now some oligarchs are learning that life here has hazards of its own. That goes even for nonresidents like Mr. Akhmedov, who never became a British citizen. Eager to keep British tax collectors away from his money, he limited the number of days he stayed in England to a maximum of 180 a year. (More recently, the number was reduced to 90 days.)

In January, he appeared on the “Putin List,” an inventory of business and political elites in Russia, published by the Trump administration. Seven oligarchs — though not Mr. Akhmedov — have since been subject to sanctions that prevent them from conducting business in the United States

Even the Luna, the ultimate in high-end joy rides, is customized for a man anticipating trouble. It has a missile detection system, an anti-drone system, bulletproof windows and bombproof doors.

None of these features, however, have shielded Mr. Akhmedov from the British justice system, despite the exhaustive efforts of his legal and accounting team. Before arriving in the Middle East, the vessel had been on an epic journey, though one not measured in nautical miles.

As the nine-figure settlement was gaveled into divorce court history, Mr. Akhmedov began what the judge called a “campaign” to hide his assets “in a web of offshore companies.” Nothing demonstrates the breadth and ingenuity of that web like the Luna. Starting in November 2016, the yacht went on a whirlwind voyage, all of it on paper, in a feat of asset protection and financial engineering so elaborate that the judge diagramed it in an April ruling.

Initially, the seizure of the yacht in Dubai sounded like a setback for Mr. Akhmedov. Then, he and lawyers for the family trust that technically owns the Luna filed a claim — still pending — arguing that the fate of the yacht should be decided by a local court in Dubai, using Islamic law, known as Shariah.

Legal experts say Mr. Akhmedov has calculated that his odds of prevailing are better in a Shariah court, especially given that his ex-wife is a Christian who has acknowledged infidelity in their marriage. Stories in British tabloids have lately emphasized that Mr. Akhmedov is a practicing Muslim

That is news to Ms. Akhmedova. In her first-ever interview, which took place recently in the office of a public relations firm, she said she had never seen her ex-husband kneeling on a prayer rug or going to a mosque, other than at a tourist site.

“Apparently because he was born in Azerbaijan, he’s a Muslim,” she said, her eyes widening with disbelief.

A sunny woman with a mild Russian accent, Ms. Akhmedova wore ripped denim jeans, a batch of string bracelets and a T-shirt that read “Free as a Butterfly.” She said she was reluctant to speak publicly about her divorce, because everything about it is painful, including the recent media coverage in Britain, which has made much of allegations of infidelity leveled by both sides.

In 2014, Mr. Akhmedov acquired the Luna, which he purchased from Roman Abramovich, a friend and fellow oligarch. (Mr. Abramovich has had his own troubles with Britain recently, as the country has cracked down on a type of visa given to wealthy investors.)

Even the purchase was complicated, it seems, as Akhmedov's company bought it for $360 million US.

“It would take four years to build a boat like that,” said Ms. Akhmedova, who helped arrange the sale. “So we thought, why not ask our friend? He’s got two boats, let’s ask him for one.”

Two days before the start of the trial, in November 2016, lawyers and accountants took the helm of the Luna and shuffled it to a handful of companies controlled by Mr. Akhmedov and his allies, in the Isle of Man, Panama and Liechtenstein. 

It eventually landed in a newly created family trust called Straight, which Judge Haddon-Cave wryly described in a ruling as “the antithesis of its name.”

“In my judgment, it is clear that Straight is simply another ‘cipher,’” he wrote, designed by Mr. Akhmedov “to evade enforcement.

A few months after the Luna arrived in Dubai for maintenance, the Dubai International Financial Center Courts — which conducts business in English and uses English common law — impounded the vessel.

Lawyers for Mr. Akhmedov and Straight have since filed an appeal with a Dubai entity called the Joint Judicial Tribunal, a seven-member committee created in 2016 and granted the power to decide which court has jurisdiction over a legal proceeding. Mr. Akhmedov contends that his dispute is a matrimonial one, which should be decided by a local Shariah court. He is not looking to relitigate the divorce, his spokesman said. 

He simply wants a judgment that says the British order to transfer ownership of the yacht cannot be enforced in Dubai.

So will Ms. Akhmedova get the yacht?  Or will the boat lie and rot in the hot sun of Dubai?

Right now, it's anyone's guess.