When Paul Allen threw a Bollywood-themed yacht party

Super yacht.
Super yacht.
Image: Reuters/Chris Helgren
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Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, who died of cancer yesterday (Oct. 15), didn’t exactly retire after he left the company in 1983. Instead, he became a major philanthropist, acquired several professional sports teams, invested in space technology, and even founded his own space company.

But as one of the world’s wealthiest people, he also knew how to throw a party, often aboard his legendary 414-foot (126-metre) super yacht, the Octopus. And one of his fabled bashes paid homage to India’s glitzy film industry.

In 2015, his annual yacht party for the Cannes Film Festival was Bollywood-themed. Guests including Hollywood stars Natalie Portman, Antonio Banderas, and Leonardo DiCaprio were treated to the sight of elephant and Buddha statues, henna tattoos, and a Bollywood dance performance by actress Mallika Sherawat, among others.

This party came a few years after another with a Brazilian theme, and was followed by a garden-themed one inspired by the enchanted forest in Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

The Octopus is one of the world’s largest yachts, and cost about $200 million to build. It boasts of a helicopter hangar, a glass-bottom pool, a recording studio, movie theatre, and even a basketball court. But when it wasn’t hosting the who’s who of Hollywood, Allen loaned it out for exploration projects. In fact, just a few months before the Bollywood bash, Allen and his private team of explorers had managed to find the Musashi, a Japanese battleship from World War II, that had been sunk by US warplanes over 70 years ago.