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A Yacht With a Fabulous History 

Architectural Digest

The Highlander sails through New York Harbor in the 1980s. Photograph by Lisl Dennis Close

The Highlander sails through New York Harbor in the 1980s. Photograph by Lisl Dennis

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The Highlander sails through New York Harbor in the 1980s. Photograph by Lisl Dennis

AD takes a look back at the legendary yacht, when it was owned by famed publisher Malcolm S. Forbes

Malcolm S. Forbes, the legendary publisher of Forbes magazine, lived large. His was a life filled with gold helicopters, Harley-Davidson motorcycles, a fleet of hot-air balloons, and glittering parties populated by hundreds of high-powered guests. But no plaything he owned was more beloved than his yacht The Highlander, the fifth and final edition of a series of identically named vessels. Here heads of state gathered alongside corporate titans and international boldface types, sipping French wines while bandleader Lester Lanin and his orchestra played snappy standards on the aft deck. The multimillion-dollar boat and its glamorous swirl of posh food and rare vintages was all about networking and cultivating influence, Forbes once said: “On a yacht like The Highlander you can establish the kind of rapport you don’t achieve talking across a desk.”

Painted an ironic shade of currency-green and outfitted with serious antiques and museum-quality art, The Highlander sailed the seven seas—which is precisely where its current owners, the interior designer Joanne de Guardiola and her husband, Roberto, plan to take it. One Forbes detail they won’t be replicating, however, is the late publisher’s tradition of serving Beluga caviar on Ritz crackers. “I think the only other crackers my father allowed on the boat were Saltines,” says son Christopher “Kip” Forbes, noting that the combination of the grand with the humble illustrated his father’s celebrated passion for luxury as well as his Scottish frugality.

Take a peek at The Highlander as it appeared in Architectural Digest in January 1987 and elsewhere throughout the decade.

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