‘Your common, ordinary billionaire’

For a few days recently, it looked as if we were hosting a megayacht convention in Burnham Harbor. Docked near McCormick Place were two enormous yachts, both hailing from George Town, Cayman Islands: Cracker Bay (147 feet) and Battered Bull (172 feet). Not far away, and also Cayman Islands-registered, was Blue Moon (198 feet). After a few days, though, Blue Moon was heading out, and Cracker Bay had been replaced by Gran Finale (also 147 feet).

Blue Moon belongs to Dick Duchossois (Arlington Racecourse), Battered Bull belongs to Donald F. Flynn (part of the Emerald Casino group) and Cracker Bay belongs to developer Gary Morse, who’s CEO of the Villages, an enormous retirement community in Florida with 70,000 residents.

It’s tempting to think the three were sitting around planning some giant retirement/gaming/Olympic Village complex, but maybe it was pure coincidence the boats were here at the same time. And who knows, the owners may not even have been aboard.

Gran Finale is a little trickier. During a stop in Buffalo, N.Y., it attracted enough attention that the local paper sent a reporter. He asked the captain, Ted Sputh, who the owner was. “I can’t tell you that,” Sputh said. “He’s very, very private. . . . We always hear the Trumps or Madonna, but none of that’s true. You wouldn’t know him anyway. He’s just your common, ordinary billionaire.”

Something to aspire to.

The boat’s Buffalo visit sparked a long online discussion, to which “anonymous” of Monterey, Calif., contributed this: “OK, I’m going to say this once and I’m telling the truth. The owner of the boat is not Ivana Trump, not the owner of Microsoft, nobody like that. The owner is someone who has their own business and they like to use the boat with their friends and family and they like their privacy. It’s nobody you would know by name but they’re an amazingly generous family.”

You know, if I were amazingly generous, I’d have a big boat too. Is it always the philanthropists who have the biggest boats? Take Donald Flynn. He’s also a trustee of the Chicago Symphony. Morse? He’s given more than half a million dollars to the Republicans (if you can call that philanthropy). And there’s the Duchossois Center for Advanced Medicine at the University of Chicago.

Of course, if I had a big boat, I might not be able to afford the philanthropy. It’d be the big boat, or the foundation. And there are lots of foundations, but I’d only have one big boat. Tough choices.

Meanwhile, what about Gran Finale? Maybe the clue is in the spelling. Missing D? Parked near Soldier Field? Gotta be someone trying to put a hex on the Bears. And it seems to be working. Is it Brett Favre’s boat? No, we all know his name. Jay Mariotti’s? No, he’s not known to be amazingly generous.

Anyway, Gran Finale’s moved on, so maybe things will look up for the Bears. Let’s see what the effect on tonight’s game is.

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