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Video: Burgess boss on Trump, Tom Cruise and the biggest boat deals in history

17 December 2020

From living on the breadline in Greece to selling Donald Trump his 86 metre yacht Trump Princess, Jonathan Beckett recounts stories from his 40 years in the superyachting industry in the latest of BOAT International's Legends of Yachting video series.

Beckett sat down with editor-in-chief Stewart Campbell for the extended interview at his home in Burnham-on-Crouch on the east coast of the UK. The pair discuss Beckett's childhood in Norfolk and how was lured to the Caribbean by a job crewing on a yacht.

Beckett started his brokerage career in Greece – and "failed to sell a thing", he says – before securing a job with Nigel Burgess in Monaco. "I started in Monaco on £3,000 a year and I thought I'd died and gone to heaven," he recalls.

The Burgess boss also tells how he first came into contact with Donald Trump, after listing 86m Nabila (now Kingdom 5KR) for sale. The New York real estate mogul rang Beckett in his London office and said: "Can you be with me in New York at 10am in the morning?" Thanks to Concorde, Beckett made the meeting.

Trump ended up buying the boat, renaming it Trump Princess, and famously only spent one night on board in his four years of ownership. When Trump's empire collapsed in the 90s, the boat was sent on a world tour – and Beckett sold the boat again.

In the interview, Beckett also discusses the shock of hearing that his mentor and boss, Nigel Burgess, had died while competing in the Vendee Globe, and how the business survived the turbulent period that followed.

You can watch the full interview above, and also watch a previous "Legends" video with designers Andrew Winch, Terry Disdale and Tim Heywood, in which they look back on their long careers in the yachting industry.

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