Super Yacht Aviva

The 332-foot super yacht Aviva, docked at the Charleston City Marina since Sunday, is owned by British investor Joe Lewis. Staff/Brad Nettles

A blue-and-white yacht that's longer than a football field has been drawing attention at the Charleston City Marina.

The 323-foot Aviva dwarfs the other pleasure boats. It's easily visible from Lockwood Boulevard, the Ashley River bridge and the James Island connector.

The boat arrived Sunday, prompting a flurry of speculation on social media. A departure date has not been set, according to Robert Freeman, a managing partner of the marina. 

It's owned by billionaire British investor Joe Lewis, an 81-year-old who lives in the Bahamas and makes the luxury vessel his mobile office. The marina said it can't comment on what he might be doing in Charleston.

"We have celebrities coming to Charleston on boats all the time, and we respect their privacy," Freeman said.

The $150 million Aviva is built around an indoor, full-sized padel tennis court, according to an inside look this spring by Boat International. Some of Lewis' $1 billion art collection reportedly sails around the world with him.

Lewis got his start in a family catering business, sold it and moved to the Bahamas to start an investment company called the Tavistock Group in 1975. Now he's worth $5 billion, according to the latest estimate from Forbes.

His private art collection is one of the world's largest and includes works by Bacon, Degas, Freud, Klimt, Modigliani, Matisse and Picasso, according to the company website.

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The Aviva is not the biggest yacht to visit Charleston since the Megadock opened at the marina in 2003. That would be the 454-foot Rising Sun, owned by entertainment mogul David Geffen, in 2013.

Other super yachts that have stayed at the marina include:

  • The 288-foot The Fountainhead, owned by Sears CEO Eddie Lampert, last August around the time of the total eclipse.
  • The 332-foot Attessa IV, owned by self-made billionaire Dennis Washington, in 2014.
  • And Tiger Wood's Privacy during the 2012 PGA Championship at Kiawah Island's Ocean Course.

Reach Dave Munday at 843-937-5553.