It’s no secret that 2020 was a tough year. At times, we all needed a distraction—whether it was from a global pandemic, raging wildfires or a presidential campaign season that never seemed to end.
Being stuck at home, many Robb Report readers took the opportunity to explore their passions. Some perused top-shelf bourbons and whiskies. Others learned about flying supercars or bold new yacht designs. They were fascinated by cutting-edge advances in aviation, like the first electrified wingsuit and the “Flying V” jumbo jet. And still others just wanted a glimpse inside Tom Brady’s custom Cadillac Escalade or David Beckham’s insane Miami penthouse.
Whatever your luxury proclivities may be, they likely have a place among Robb Report‘s most popular offerings. Below, our 25 most-read stories of 2020. May they bring you a slightly lighter look back on the year we’d all like to forget.
25. To Boost Tourism, the Maldives Launches the World’s First Loyalty Program for a Country
The Maldives has been one of the canniest luxury destinations in responding to the pandemic, pivoting to focus on private jet arrivals as it reopened; its already socially distanced resorts enacted stringent, but efficient, protocols—see Soneva, which bought its own PCR testing machine to conduct tests onsite on arrival. The next move is a world-first, which launched this month: the first-ever loyalty scheme for a country. This airline- and hotel-like system could prove pivotal for a country where tourism accounts for almost two-thirds of its GDP. Read the full article here.
24. Feadship’s Epic New 290-Foot Superyacht Hits the Water for the First Time in Amsterdam
Despite the catastrophe that was 2020, Feadship managed to charge full steam ahead, delivering four new vessels and launching a handful of others. The latest such achievement is a new 290-foot superyacht which has just hit the water in Amsterdam. The epic vessel, known as Project 816, has been kept tightly under wraps by the Dutch builder. In fact, Saturday was the first time it was spotted since entering Feadship’s new Amsterdam-based shipyard in May last year. Needless to say, it’s been worth the wait. Read the full article here.
23. This 394-Foot Megayacht Has an Epic Beach Club That Expands Like a Bird’s Tail
It’s no secret that beach clubs have become a popular addition to luxury yachts, but the one that adorns the new megayacht Indah is unlike anything currently on the seas. In fact, it’s more like an epic waterfront entertainment venue, offering enough space for you, your friends and even your friends’ friends to enjoy. The oversized beach club is the centerpiece of the 394-foot concept, which was penned by Opalinski Design House. The vessel sports a sleek steel hull, an aluminum superstructure and a wave-piercing vertical bow. It also features some nifty, origami-like engineering to give it more space aft. Read the full article here.
22. This Flying Supercar Concept Is Faster Than Your Lambo—in the Air and on the Ground
The Firenze Lanciare poses a question that many supercar owners would love to answer themselves: Will this new type of “hybrid” perform better on the ground or in the sky? With its retractable wings extended, the Firenze Lanciare looks like a sci-fi creation, harnessing 2,000 pounds of thrust from two Williams FJ-33 jet engines. It has an air-cruise speed of 520 mph and range of roughly 850 miles, thanks to a 300-gallon fuel tank. On the road, the Firenze Lanciare will tap into two electric Tesla engines, totaling 1,000 horsepower. It runs from 0 to 60 mph in less than four seconds, out-accelerating a Lamborghini. Read the full article here.
21. Forget Fuel Tanks and Batteries: This New Electric Jet Concept Uses Air Friction to Generate Power
While the most current trend in business aviation is all about creating the next generation of electric and hybrid-powered aircraft, a new kind of space race could emerge if the physics actually support the theory behind Eather One. Designer Michal Bonikowski’s concept is probably four or five generations ahead of the current mode of thinking, but Bonikowski told Robb Report that he was inspired by the recent Maveric concept by Airbus. “That aircraft’s unique design helps reduce drag while providing more cabin space,” he said. “I have been thinking a lot about this lately, and wondered what could happen if a big company would like to create an electric plane.”
20. This Historic 80-Foot Yacht Was Collecting Dust in Storage. Now It Can Be Yours for $127,000.
Seafarers have just been gifted an opportunity to acquire an important piece of marine history. The first Feadship vessel to ever be delivered Stateside has hit the market for a cool $127,000. The 80-footer, known as Anahita V, has been collecting dust in storage at Scotland’s Ferguson Marine and is in dire need of some TLC. Of course, that doesn’t detract from its incredible legacy. Launched in 1952, the twin-screw gentleman’s motor yacht was the largest Feadship vessel at the time and the first to be imported to the US. Suffice it to say, Anahita V established Feadship’s business model of building yachts for the American market and paved the way for future vessels to follow. This has allowed Feadship to become one of the most pervasive and respected builders in the industry. Read the full article here.
19. First Look at the 5 Bars Inside Vegas’s First Adults-Only Casino-Resort
At the Vegas Vickie’s lobby bar inside Circa, the new-construction property developer Derek Stevens is creating in downtown Las Vegas, the centerpiece will be a neon kicking cowgirl known as Vegas Vickie. The iconic neon sign previously glowed above the downtown Glitter Gulch casino that turned into the Girls of Glitter Gulch strip club. The bar will be part of Stevens plan to open the first five floors of the only 21-and-over casino-resort in Las Vegas on October 28. But don’t expect lap dances at Circa, which will offer a decidedly different kind of adults-only entertainment. Read the full article here.
18. An Hermès Boutique in China Made $2.7 Million in One Day After It Reopened
Is Hermès’ blockbuster reopening in China a barometer of things to come in post-pandemic luxury shopping? The French heritage brand’s Guangzhou flagship store reportedly achieved $2.7 million in sales when it reopened this weekend, according to WWD. This figure is believed to be the highest daily haul for a single boutique in China, and offers hope to luxury brands and retailers of what economic recovery may look like in the coming months. WWD noted that although Hermès did not immediately respond to verify this tally, a host of VIP shoppers documented their extravagant purchases across multiple social media platforms, including Weibo and Xiaohongshu, reinforcing its likelihood. Read the full article here.
17. David Beckham Drops $20 Million on an Insane Miami Penthouse With Its Own Helipad
Goooaaalll! British soccer superstar David Beckham has just scored a $20 million penthouse in Miami’s iconic One Thousand Museum tower, complete with its own rooftop helipad. Beckham and wife, former Spice Girl-turned-fashion-designer, Victoria—just closed on a full-floor, five-bedroom unit at the newly opened, 62-story Zaha Hadid-designed skyscraper. The power couple has snapped up the 11,000-square-foot apartment as they plan to spend more time in the Sunshine State. David, 44, is co-owner of Inter Miami CF, Miami’s new Major League Soccer team which played its first match against the Los Angeles Galaxy last month, losing 0-1. Read the full article here.
16. The 25 Largest Yachts in the World, From Merely Enormous to Humongous
From the exceedingly large to the downright gargantuan, the top 25 largest yachts in the world continue to impress. Built by shipyards all over the world—from the Netherlands to the United Arab Emirates, Italy, the United States, Greece, and the United Kingdom, to name just a few—new launches and refits are delivered each year, at the request of owners around the globe. Some yards, such as Germany-based Lürssen, complete more than their share of the largest yachts. Of the top 25 featured here, the company has built 13, and that’s not even including the two built by Blohm+Voss, which it acquired. The below list changes a little every year, but some of these vessels have remained on the list for years. Here are the top 25 largest yachts in the world to date. Read the full article here.
15. MoMA Is Now Offering Online Art Classes for Free
The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) isn’t going to let a global pandemic get in the way of it enriching the lives of art lovers. In addition to virtual tours of its vaunted collection, the New York museum is now offering free online courses as well. Realizing that people may want to do more than just look at art, MoMA has launched a series of five free classes for those interested in better understanding the 91-year-old museum’s collection, according to i-D. Covering contemporary art, fashion and photography, the courses aren’t just glorified video clips, either. Instead, they’re comprehensive beginner courses with corresponding readings and exercises that will take anywhere from 12 to 38 hours to complete. Read the full article here.
14. BMW Made the World’s First Electrified Wingsuit. It Reached 186 MPH on Its First Flight.
BMW believed it could fly and now it’s proved it. The German marque just successfully sent air sports pioneer Peter Salzmann soaring through the sky at speeds of up to 186 mph in a newly developed electric wingsuit. The innovative concept was a joint effort between BMW, Designworks and Salzmann. The professional skydiver and BASE jumper said the idea arose while he was thinking of ways to improve performance in the air. Read the full article here.
13. The 20 Best Whiskies You Can Buy Right Now
People get hung up on the word “best,” especially when that word comes attached to a phrase like “20 Best Whiskies You Can Buy Right Now.” You can practically hear the protests already—“But if there are 20 of them, how can they all be ‘best?’” To these people I say politely (and with infinite patience): Pipe down. There are as many expressions of scotch as there are angels nipping at every whisky cask in the Hebrides and as there are snooty grammarians who want to take the fun out of the pursuit of incredible liquor. Read the full article here.
12. How a Beaten-Up Supply Vessel Was Transformed Into the Crown Jewel of Explorer Yachts
Three years ago, a hulking supply vessel that had worked the oil fields in Kazakhstan was looking for an owner. The 223-footer, with its bare decks and industrial look, seemed an unlikely candidate to become an expedition superyacht. Sanaborg had been lying around Harlingen harbor in the Netherlands for years, with no future prospects. Visiting the yard at ICON Yachts, Sanaborg‘s future owner was able to see her potential. The vessel had many things going for her: She only had about 5,000 nautical miles under her hull and she had been built at a reliable Dutch shipyard, so ICON knew her pedigree. Sanaborg also had the highest-rated Polar-class hull, so she could travel anywhere in the world. Read the full article here.
11. R&B Star Akon’s New $6 Billion Smart City in Senegal Will Offer a Second Home for the African Diaspora
Akon may not be lonely for much longer. The famed R&B singer is going ahead with plans to build a new $6 billion smart city in Senegal where nationals can live and work—and where members of the African Diaspora will always be welcome. The 47-year-old Senegalese American singer, known for hits like “Smack That” and “Lonely,” has confirmed that construction on “Akon City” will begin next year despite the pandemic’s devastating effects on global tourism. The 2,000-acre metropolis, which was first touted by the singer back in 2018, will feature a sprawling luxury resort, high-rise condos, recording studios, a stadium, and even its own cryptocurrency, “Akoin.” Read the full article here.
10. This New Solar EV Has a 1,000-Mile Range—But You May Never Need to Charge It
Range is arguably the biggest hurdle when it comes to developing an EV, but one startup thinks it has cleared it—in more ways than one. San Diego-based Aptera has just unveiled a new solar-based three-wheeler it claims doesn’t require charging—but just happens to have 1,000-mile battery-electric range for good measure. The futuristic trike, which has an almost Jetsons flying car-like aesthetic, features more than 32 square feet of solar panels that are integrated into the body. This setup allows the two-seater to travel up to 45 miles a day and up to 11,000 miles per year on energy harnessed from the sun, according to the company. Read the full article here.
9. Tom Brady Is Selling His Heavily Modified Cadillac Escalade SUV for $300,000
It turns out Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots aren’t the only things that Tom Brady will jettison this offseason. The NFL’s greatest quarterback has decided to part ways with one of his favorite vehicles as well. Now his former ride, a 2017 Cadillac Escalade, could be yours. As you might expect, this is no regular old Escalade. Rather, it’s a heavily modified ESV edition designed specifically to the QB’s exact specifications by Oxnard, California-based Becker Automotive Design. Read the full article here.
8. Nicolas Cage’s 1967 Ford Mustang From ‘Gone in 60 Seconds’ Just Went Up for Sale
There are few better showcases for muscle cars than a good, old-fashioned heist movie. Because of this, the cars from these flicks tend to become the stuff of legend among both enthusiasts and collectors. And now one of the more memorable vehicles to hit the silver screen, the grey and black Ford Mustang from Gone in 60 Seconds remake, is up for sale. An actual Mustang “Eleanor” used during the filming of the Nicolas Cage and Angelina Jolie-starring blockbuster was just posted for sale by ChromeCars in Germany. Not only is the specially designed vehicle a part of Hollywood history, it’s also one of the most beautiful muscle cars ever built. Read the full article here.
7. Legend Says This $3 Million Private Island Mansion Is Home to a Pirate’s Buried Treasure
Looking to really socially distance yourself in the time of coronavirus? Consider this tiny private Connecticut island, complete with a family-friendly, eight-bedroom mansion, that’s just been listed for $3 million. Wheelers Island is a three-quarter acre rock in Long Island Sound that’s part of the Thimble Island archipelago, close to the artsy colony of Branford, Conn. And the best part: If you’re handy with a snorkel and flippers, Wheelers Island could end-up costing you nothing, as in zip, zilch, nada. Read the full article here.
6. The 25 Best Bourbons of the 21st Century (So Far)
There’s much to love about the world’s great Japanese, Scotch and Irish whiskey distilleries. But when it comes to innovation, the wily bourbon producers in the United States have been leading the way for years. In Kentucky and beyond, purveyors of America’s native spirit have refused to let the excellence of their existing products stand in the way of coming up with new ones. And over the last decade and a half, a plenitude of incredible new whiskey with a mash bill of at least 51 percent corn and aged in charred new oak barrels—the house rules for a whiskey to be called a bourbon—has come to market, some from brand-new producers, others new expressions from venerated houses. Fortunately, we’ve got you covered. Here are 25 of the best bourbon releases of the last 20 years. Read the full article here.
5. This Renovated Island Fortress Is Now a Lavish $5.2 Million Lair Worthy of a Bond Villain
Even villains need some R&R now and then. A former army fortress located in the English Channel has been converted into a luxury island oasis worthy of a Bond nemesis, and it was just put up for sale by the British real estate agency, Strutt & Parker. Well over 150 years old, the absurd compound has everything an evil mastermind could want, including a wine cellar, spa and even a casino. Truly diabolical. Read the full article here.
4. Watch a 380-Ton Soviet Superplane Move for the First Time in 30 Years
Is it a boat? Is it a plane? Is it the Loch Ness monster? The Lun-class ekranoplan, colloquially known as “The Caspian Sea Monster,” is arguably a mish-mash of all three, and has just reared its head for the first time in 30 years. The behemoth craft was developed by the Soviet Union as a sort of hybrid between airplanes and ships. It can move over water without actually touching it. First entered service in 1987, it was the only one of its class to be completed and has spent the past three decades hidden away at a pier in southern Russia. Now, it’s back on dry land after one helluva extraction process. Read the full article here.
3. The 25 Most Expensive Homes in the World for Sale
It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that 2020 wasn’t a great year to be selling a million-dollar mansion. Luxury real estate markets the world over were already suffering from a slump even before the Covid-19 pandemic took its toll on the global economy. So this year our list of most expensive homes is more crowded with nine-digit offerings—and repeat entries from 2019—than ever. Of course, that won’t stop the prime real estate market from churning, even if more slowly. And if you’re going to quarantine somewhere, you could do worse than one of the impressive properties below. Here, the 25 the most expensive homes currently on market around the world. Read the full article here.
2. The ‘Flying-V,’ a Fuel-Efficient Alternative to Jumbo Jets, Just Flew for the First Time
A scale model of the “Flying-V,” an experimental aircraft design with huge wings, took flight recently in Germany. The blended-wing aircraft concept is a project by Delft Technical University (TU Delft) in the Netherlands, with financial support by KLM Airlines. It was recently flown from a German airbase, with the support of a team from Airbus. The Flying-V was designed as a fuel-efficient, long-range aircraft in which the passenger seating, fuel tanks and baggage hold are built into the wings. Research shows that the unusual design stands to gain up to 20 percent better fuel efficiency than an Airbus A350 jetliner, considered today’s most advanced design. It’s also about 15 percent more aerodynamically efficient than conventional aircraft. At full scale, the Flying-V would seat 314 passengers in two classes. Read the full article here.
1. NASA’s Hubble Telescope Captures a Rare Metal Asteroid Worth 70,000 Times the Global Economy
Humans just got one more reason to journey to outer space. There’s a rare asteroid the size of Massachusetts orbiting between Mars and Jupiter, and it’s worth an estimated $10,000 quadrillion. The rarity, known as 16 Psyche, was actually discovered back in 1852, but NASA’s Hubble Telescope has finally given earth-dwellers a closer look. The new study, which was published this week in The Planetary Science Journal, indicates that asteroid’s composition is key to its astronomical value. Read the full article here.