The Sequoia, one of the most famous yachts in America, was recently restored and earns her keep providing private cruises off Washington, D.C.
Now in her dowager years, the 88-year-old boat remains a sight at 104 feet long and 19 feet wide. Built in 1925 by famed naval architect John Trumpy for Philadelphia socialites, the Sequoia is the longest-serving presidential yacht and a National Historic Landmark. It was the scene of much presidential history: the site of JFK’s last birthday party; where Richard Nixon decided to resign, with a bottle of scotch at the piano.
The boat is owned by Gary Silversmith, a 56-year-old lawyer and real estate entrepreneur. A presidential history buff, he bought it in 2000, when it was a poorly maintained albatross — mothballed in dire need of repair — and he has since spent millions restoring it to Washington glamour.
Today, if you can swing the $10,000 or so rental fee, you, too, can play the piano, sit in JFK’s chair and stand along the top rail just like Nixon and Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev. It’s the ultimate Washington-insider tourist attraction.
Which makes the drama of the lawsuit — The Sequoia Presidential Yacht Group LLC and Gary Silversmith v. FE Partners LLC, in which Silversmith is attempting to stave off a financier who is trying to force a sale at a deeply discounted price — a dark chapter in the yacht’s history.