'Comprereste un Air Bus da quest’uomo?' on D Magazine of La Repubblica, Italy
Selling Airborne Opulence to the Upper Upper Upper Class. For a private-jet broker, success is all about knowing who’s who in the world’s 0.0001 percent.
‘Trump Force One,” a quarter-century-old Boeing 757, might not be the largest, or the fastest, or the most expensive private aircraft in the world, but it holds the undeniable virtue of being the most famous. With a pair of powerfully inefficient Rolls-Royce RB211 turbofan engines, the plane was flown by discount airlines after its completion in 1991 (the first in Denmark, the second in Mexico) before it was sold in 1995 to Paul Allen, the Microsoft co-founder. Allen is said to have selected this particular plane from his personal fleet to ferry about his N.F.L. team, the Seattle Seahawks. In 2011, Donald J. Trump reportedly paid $100 million for the plane and in short order erased whatever traces of Seahawk might have remained: The plane’s face-lift included the installation of a silken master bedroom, as well as 24-karat-gold plating on the bathroom fixtures and seatbelts.
The plane’s opulence — its seats embroidered with what the reality-TV star claimed was the Trump family crest — and its billionaire pedigree recalled a venerable tradition of elite mobility, whereby warrior-aristocrats would commission costly ships not just for splendid seafaring and maritime conflict but for exchange among themselves, as gifts befitting their shared station. These practices endured for millenniums, from Pharaonic barges and Chinese imperial dragon boats to medieval Viking galleys (as, in the 10th century, when King Harald Fairhair of Norway presented to King Aethelstan of the West Saxons and the Mercians a purple-sailed vessel with a bow of gold) and British royal yachts, which Queen Victoria lent liberally to friends like the Empress of Austria.