“You can do better than this.” That’s what Steve Jobs kept telling the workers at Feadship, who constructed Venus for the founder of Apple.

Jobs questioned everything, applying the same minimalist approach and exacting standards to this 262-foot yacht that he applied to his company, and forcing designer Philippe Starck  to justify each addition or leave it out.



Starck says he and Jobs spent a day together every six weeks for four years, going over refinements “millimetre by millimetre. Detail by detail.” He claims there is not a single “useless pillow” or other object inside Venus.

The result is a yacht that traditionalists don’t like, perhaps because of a kind of Apple Store sharp cleanliness to the lines.

“I think as many people hate it visually as like it,” says Henk de Vries from Feadship, who was in charge of the build. “Everybody who knows a little bit about yachts says, ‘Oh my God, wooh. You finished that, and it works?’”

Steve Jobs yacht venus

Steve Jobs' Venus was launched a year after his death. Photo: Ed Oudenaarden AFP/Getty Image

The 262-foot yacht answered those critics with a transatlantic crossing, once a financial dispute with Starck was sorted out. Now that she’s sailing, it will be hard to keep sightings of the distinctive yacht from becoming big news. While under construction, however, all the employees kept quiet about their big project for the well-known client.

“We manage to keep the boats out of the limelight right up until they leave the shipyard,” de Vries explains. “And then it’s in the public domain.”

As for the size of Venus, which many call excessive, de Vries shrugs. “The nice thing about having a boat is you can go to interesting places. The bigger a ship gets, the more difficult it is to get to nice places. But every time someone mentions an upper limit, there is some rich person who says, ‘Ah, why—I can go a little bit bigger than that!’”

Watch the full interview with Henk de Vries