Complete with sharks, the luxury liner fit for a Bond villain (or a Gaddafi)

Dictator's son planned a deadly aquarium on board his floating palace of marble and gold

It was a vessel fit for a Bond villain, ordered by the son of a dictator. Hannibal Gaddafi, the son of former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, planned his own liner with a tank full of sharks, gold-framed mirrors and a host of large statues, it has emerged.

The ship, which would have been capable of catering for 3,500 guests, would also have been home to two sand tiger sharks, two white sharks and two blacktip reef sharks, along with four biologists to look after them. But the ambitious order was never fulfilled due to the overthrow of the deceased dictator's regime last year.

Hannibal, the 36-year-old fourth son of Colonel Gaddafi who controlled the country's maritime industry and seaports, asked for the vessel because he grew frustrated at not being able to get his hands on a liner to entertain guests at a day's notice.

"I personally don't know why, but he wanted a shark tank," said Pierfrancesco Vago, chief executive of MSC Cruises, which sought to buy the vessel from the French arm of the Korean shipbuilder, STX Corporation, after the Gaddafi order was cancelled in June last year. He said that Mr Gaddafi had been in touch with his company regularly about renting cruise ships, but rarely gave sufficient notice.

"They had great difficulty understanding that cruise ship holidays are sold a year in advance, so there's no way you could ever find availability of a cruise vessel at the notice he gave," Mr Vago told the Financial Times.

The Phoenicia would have been decked out with marble columns and, besides the 1,200-tonne tank full of seawater, would have needed a separate food store for the sharks.

But, instead of being used to host international dignitaries visiting a despot, from March next year it will take holidaymakers on cruises around Greek islands after MSC Cruises decided to spend £460m converting it.

Behind the deal there was nine months of "very tough negotiations", involving talks over the fate of the huge fish tank, the price and a "cleaning up" of the ship's interior. "There were some public spaces with some very particular and peculiar architectural taste – lots of gilt," Mr Vago said.

Mr Gaddafi now lives in exile in Algeria. The grandiose design of the liner is perhaps in keeping with the lifestyle of a man who was once involved in a police car chase in central Paris after allegedly driving down the Avénue des Champs Elysées at 90mph.

In one 2009 episode, at Claridge's hotel in London, police arrested Mr Gaddafi's bodyguards when they tried to deny entry to their boss's hotel room from which screams had been heard. Aline Skaf, Mr Gaddafi's wife, was found bleeding badly with facial injuries. She said she fell.

In July the previous year, the couple were arrested by Swiss police over allegations of assaulting one of their maids. They denied the accusations.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Recruitment Genius: Office Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: Have you been doing a brilliant job in an admi...

Surrey County Council: Senior Project Officer (Fixed Term to Feb 2019)

£26,498 - £31,556: Surrey County Council: We are looking for an outgoing, conf...

Recruitment Genius: Interim Head of HR

£50000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you an innovative, senior H...

Recruitment Genius: Human Resources and Payroll Administrator

£20000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our client, a very well respect...

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower