Billionaire's Boat Stuffed With Exotic Animals Seized

One man's fetish for stuffed, dead animals and snake skinned clothes is U.S. Customs agents' worst nightmare

By Todd Wright
|  Thursday, May 14, 2009  |  Updated 10:19 AM EDT
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Animal Death Cruise

www.superyachttimes.com

Tamir Sapir's yacht was a vessel filled with trinkets made from the death of rare and exotic animals.

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Animal Death Cruise

A yacht stuff with dead exotic animals and merchandise made from their skins was confiscated in Miami. The owner of the vessel is Tamir Saphir, one of the wealthiest men in the Western Hemisphere.
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Lions and tigers and bears and just about any other exotic animal you can think of were found on a mega yacht in Miami and caused quite an expensive problem for one of the wealthiest men in America.

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?

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