The decorative animal hides, stuffed heads and ivory carvings are illegal to have in the U.S., an endangered species law lost on Tamir Sapir, the New York billionaire who owns the vessel.
Even though Sapir was not smuggling the items, U.S. Customs agents seized the boat and fined the real-estate tycoon $150,000. The expensive trinkets were also taken away.
"Personally, I think these items are rather creepy items,” said U.S. District Attorney Alex Acosta. “And I would not want them in my house, but some people like them and are willing to buy them. The reason laws exist is because there is a market."
The yacht was found on an Italian freighter at Port Everglades and was explained to be Sapir’s personal boat for trips to the Caribbean.
Agents said Sapir will get his boat back, minus the snarling Bengal tiger head and snake-skinned cigar box. But his misfortune highlights a particularly rough year for the Russian immigrant.
Two months ago, Sapir fell out of the Forbes.com 500 Richest Americans list, landing at No. 522 with a net worth of just over $1.4 billion. Now, he doesn’t have his beautiful dead and exotic animals. What’s a billionaire to do?