Apple 2.0

Covering the business that Steve Jobs built

Steve Jobs' yacht: The anatomy of a news cycle

December 24, 2012: 3:56 PM ET

The story rose and sank in less than a week

Jobs' yacht

"Venus" made her maiden voyage last October. Screengrab: DutchNews.nl

FORTUNE -- It was, in many ways, the perfect Apple-in-the-post-Steve-Jobs-era yarn, although in truth it had nothing to do with Apple (AAPL) and not much to do with Jobs.

On Friday, Reuters reported that the 260-foot aluminum yacht that Jobs commissioned before he died had been seized by Dutch authorities in a dispute over an unpaid bill.

"Baliffs boarded the brand new yacht Venus last Wednesday with an Amsterdam court order and it is now literally chained to the dock," DutchNews.nl reported, adding the kind of detail that makes a story come to life. "Port service companies have been instructed not to help it to leave."

The incident had page clicks written all over it, and even though it broke at the beginning of a long Christmas weekend, at least 20 news organizations -- from Gizmodo to the Washington Post -- climbed aboard. Wired dredged up a poignant quote from Walter Isaacson's "Steve Jobs": "I know that it's possible I will die and leave Laurene with a half-built boat," Jobs told his biographer, "but I have to keep going on. If I don't, it's an admission that I'm about to die."

But it was, after all, only a dispute over money, and by Monday the two parties -- designer Philippe Starck and the estate of Steve Jobs -- had settled out of court. According to Agence France Presse, the estate made a security deposit and Starck, who had already been paid 6 million euros ($7.9 million), was guaranteed some part of the 3 million euros more ($3.9 million) he felt he was owed.

That's a much less interesting story. As of Monday afternoon, it had generated only half-a-dozen headlines on the Techmeme news aggregator.

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About This Author
Philip Elmer-Dewitt
Philip Elmer-DeWitt
Editor, Apple 2.0, Fortune

Philip Elmer-DeWitt has been following Apple since 1982, first for Time Magazine, and now on the Web for Fortune.com.

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