New San Francisco showroom offers private islands and yachts

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Shopping online has its advantages, but when a specific question comes up about the ecosystem surrounding a private island outside of Fiji, nothing beats being able to ask an expert about the island in question.

That’s where a new showroom in San Francisco’s Jackson Square comes in: Private Islands Worldwide, which made its debut in the city last week, will assist the upper echelons of society in buying the private island, yacht, floating villa and even helicopter of their dreams, The San Francisco Standard reported.


The firms behind the new shop are both German-based: shipbuilder Meyer Floating Solutions, helmed by head of sales and design Lars Kruse, and real estate firm Vladi Private Islands, owned and managed by Farhad Vladi (which also has locations in Canada and New Zealand).

Offerings vary widely, with private islands available for as little as $250,000 or for tens of millions, depending on a number of factors, including location, acreage, existing development, etc. The shop’s motto? “Peace, privacy & perfection,” providing some of the world’s most secretive and discerning individuals spotless, secluded places in which to bask in their wealth.

Given that the inventory of private islands is finite, finding offerings for clients is no doubt a bit of a challenge, but Vladi suggested that’s part of what makes them so special.

“The emotional links to islands are very strong,” Vladi told The San Francisco Standard. “The difficulty in the island business is to get islands on the market, because whoever has an island doesn’t want to give it away again.”

The broker said that someone will ultimately relinquish one of those precious islands for one of a number of reasons that real estate agents will be familiar with: death, debt and divorce.

Meanwhile, when it comes to Meyer’s custom-made yachts (no two are alike), the massive vessels can easily command several hundred million.

“If you’re talking about a 150-meter yacht, it starts at something around $370 million,” Kruse told The Standard. “But that’s, let’s say, a starting price.”

The firm’s helicopters, artworks and smaller vessels typically go for about another $100 million, he added.

The company does not publicly list prices for its floating villas, but those can be expected to run for a pretty penny as well. The structures are manufactured in Turku, Finland, and can range in size from about 1,400 square meters to 10,000 square meters.

The floating villas are often used as companions to superyachts and are supposed to be relatively environmentally friendly. The structures moor offshore, avoiding harming shoreline ecosystems, and they use hydrogen fuel cells to generate cleaner, more efficient energy.

In terms of where his clients originate from, Kruse only gave information in generalities, saying there’s “a certain market” from Europe, “a big market” in the Middle East and “a small market” in the United States. Presumably, a fair portion of that U.S. demand is in San Francisco, given that’s where the team has decided to set up shop.

Although a floating villa sounds like a nice, remote getaway for an oligarch or billionaire, Kruse said many of the firm’s clients are commercial and typically use the villas as investment properties or hotels.

Although demand remains for luxuries like private islands and yachts, San Francisco’s housing market is in turmoil. The market never quite recovered following the COVID-19 pandemic when tech hubs were hit hard by an exodus from cities. But in the last year, prices have continued to plunge, and once-coveted properties are seeing price cuts and selling at a loss.

In fact, nearly 20 percent of San Francisco homeowners are selling their property at a loss, more than four times the national share, and almost equal to the highest level seen in the last 11 years, according to a recent Redfin analysis.

Case in point, a penthouse at the San Francisco Four Seasons Residential that was first listed in November 2020 for $9.9 million is now asking only $3.75 million. Meanwhile, a home overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge, which was listed for the first time in over three decades last March for $12.8 million, only recently sold for the highly reduced price of $7.85 million, according to Zillow.

The city’s office vacancies also hit an all-time high during the first quarter of 2024, at 36.7 percent, according to CBRE. In recent years, major retailers also announced their departure from the city, including Macy’s, which announced the impending closure of its flagship store in Union Square, and Nordstrom, which last year announced the closure of two of its locations in the city. One of those locations had been at the San Francisco Centre mall, which had reportedly become a congregating area for a number of the city’s unhoused and drug users.

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