The Wild Story Of Duran Duran's Rio Yacht And The Watchmaker Who Saved It

What more can be said about Duran Duran? The band is basically synonymous with the 1980s, and their music is devastatingly influential. According to AllMusic, Duran Duran formed together in the year 1978 with the following lineup: Stephen Duffy (vocals), John Taylor (guitar), Simon Colley (bass), and Nick Rhodes (keyboards). The band's name came from a character in the sci-fi film "Barbarella," and their soundscapes are lush with influences from popular musical acts like Roxy Music and David Bowie. They quickly caught on in popularity in the U.K. — "Planet Earth" was their first hit single, followed by their groundbreaking album "Rio" in 1982 that changed everything. 

The music video for Duran Duran's hit song "Rio" is also equally fascinating. Typical of its '80s time period, the video contains conventionally attractive bikini-clad women, champagne, beaches, and yachts. But there's actually a wild story behind the yacht featured in the video that some fans may not know about. For example, a luxury watchmaker once restored the boat back to its former glory (via the New York Post).

Who is the watchmaker who restored the yacht?

Panerai is one of the world's premier luxury brands today. According to the Gentleman's Journal, the watchmaker brand is exceptionally popular today and boasts innovations that make the company recognizable alongside other brands like Rolex. And one man helped push this prestigious image: Angelo Bonati. Bonati, who was the CEO of Panerai for 21 years, made the company internationally marketable and helped push sleek state-of-the-art materials in the brand's watchmaking design. 

But Bonati's passions didn't end with watchmaking. As he told the New York Post in an interview, he also took up an interest in yachts — particularly yacht restoration. And one that caught his eye happened to be the Eilean yacht used in the music video for "Rio." However, the vessel was in horrible shape at the time, beset with rotting wood, worm, termite infestation, and plenty of rust.

The story behind Angelo Bonati finding and restoring the Rio yacht

Long after its debut in the 1982 "Rio" music video, the Eilean yacht had a very tumultuous life. As New York Post explains, back in 2006, Angelo Bonati had been in Antigua in an English harbor on the island. The yacht's crest was that of William Fife Jr., who was one of the greatest yacht builders in history, known for building some of the most high-quality ships. "When I saw the well-defined dragon, I realized this was a Fife," Bonati told the New York Post. Bonati negotiated with the yacht's current owner to eventually purchase the craft. 

As The Wall Street Journal explains, Bonati set about restoring every aspect of the boat. Accordingly, it took him $3.8 million and almost three years to restore the vessel to its former glory. To this day, the ex-CEO enjoys sailing as a lifelong passion and managed to get the Eilean yacht back to the sea once again. The Rio yacht now has two lives: that of its Duran Duran legacy, and that of its extraordinary rebirth over two decades later.