“Who Dat?” would be an appropriate and accurate response for anyone who might wonder (as I did) who owns a large yacht that is docked in front of the Harborside Hotel in downtown Bar Harbor.
A quick Google search indicates that the power yacht, a 140-foot Burger boat named Lady Gayle Marie, is owned by Tom Benson, who also owns the NFL New Orleans Saints football team and the city’s NBA franchise, the Pelicans.
According to Forbes, Benson has an estimated net worth of $1.87 billion. He established his wealth in car sales and then expanded it by diversifying his business interests, most notably by buying the Saints in 1985 and then the Pelicans in 2012.
Benson, 87, is being sued by his daughter and grandchildren over control of his business empire. According to an article by NOLA.com, they filed suit against Benson earlier this year after he forced them out of his businesses. An ESPN article indicates that Benson’s heirs blame the schism on his third wife, after whom the boat is named.
A competency hearing for Benson in the dispute is being held this week in New Orleans, so it seems highly unlikely that Benson has traveled to Bar Harbor with the yacht. The only people I saw on the boat during the few minutes I observed it today appeared to be members of the crew.
Lady Gayle Marie still was tied up in front of the Ocean Properties’ Harborside Hotel on Thursday morning.
The harbors of Mount Desert Island are not uncharted waters for wealthy boat owners.
Other superyachts known to have made stops at MDI include boats owned by David Geffen, Wayne Huizenga, Malcolm Forbes Sr., Tom Golisano and William Wirtz. Seasonal Northeast Harbor residents (and neighbors) Charles Butt and William P. Stewart also have been known to park their large yachts in front of their properties on Somes Sound.