is celebrity yachting real

A Look Behind the Curtain: Celebrity Yachting in Hollywood

If you think you know what “yachting” means, think again. In regular people’s world, yachting might mean recreational boating activities, but in Hollywood, and the entertainment industry, yachting has less to do with the boats, and more to do with exchanging sexual favors for money. 

So, if you’re curious to find out more about the dark world of celebrity yachting, read on. 

What is yachting in Hollywood? 

Yachting is the term used to describe young, attractive women attending parties (most often on yachts during events like The Cannes Film Festival) with rich and powerful men in exchange for “gifts”. Those gifts are often promises of help with their careers, expensive gifts, or simply an envelope with cash.

Sometimes, all these women have to do is be arm candies and spend the time during the parties entertaining rich and powerful men, or simply looking attractive. But, more often than not, it’s not as simple as that. Sexual favors are involved, and not all women during those parties are on board with all the activities that are being forced on them. 

The Hollywood Reporter first reported about yachting at The Cannes Film Festival all the way back in 2013. According to Elie Nahas, a man who was sentenced for running a prostitution ring, yachting has been around for almost as long as Hollywood. 

“Every year during the festival there are 30 or 40 luxury yachts in the bay at Cannes, and every boat belongs to a very rich person. Every boat has about 10 girls on it; they are usually models, and they are usually nude or half-nude. It’s drugs and drinks and beautiful women. Go out on one and you’ll see. The girls are all waiting for their envelopes at the end of the night. It’s been going on there for 60 years,” he told The Hollywood Reporter. 

What is a yacht girl?

The yacht girl is a term people use to describe young, attractive women who take part in yachting. These women are often there because they want to, but sometimes they might not know what they are getting themselves into. 

Some of these women are professional escorts and prostitutes, while others are D, C, and B-list Hollywood celebrities. Even Instagram models and influencers are rumored to be yacht girls and participate in these parties for a chance to travel the world, meet rich men, and grow their social media followings. 

Why do celebrities participate in yachting? 

There are two main reasons why celebrities are rumored to participate in yachting – money and connections. 

The men who own these yachts and who invite the young women on their yachts are often not known to the public eye, but they are rich and well-connected. And the guests they invite to their yacht parties are also equally well-connected and wealthy. 

While we all imagine that all celebrities are equally as successful and rich, with plenty of opportunities coming their way at all times, it’s not always the case. The entertainment industry is ruthless and highly competitive. And not all celebrities have equal opportunities and status.

Often, you see that the celebrities and famous young women who are rumored to be yacht girls are those who are just starting out in the industry or are very new and haven’t yet established their names. Work might not be as stable for those women, and they might not earn enough to support their celebrity lifestyles. 

So, participating in yachting, allegedly, opens the door to connecting with producers, businessmen, managers, and other influential people in the industry. And the cash envelopes the girls often get at the end of the party help fund their lifestyles while they are in between jobs. 

Rumored famous yacht girls  

So many C and B-level celebrities (and even A-level celebrities) have been rumored to be yacht girls and actively participate in yachting. Some of the names that always come up are Selena Gomez and Demi Lovato. Many people believe that the reason they were able to transition from Disney start into pop superstars was due to yachting, rather than their talent. 

Another popular rumored yacht girl celebrity is Megan Markle. Many people are convinced that she was noticed by her husband, Prince Harry, because of her appearances at yacht parties. 

Lastly, there are rumors of Haley Bieber and Bella Hadid being yacht girls. Many people believe that it’s how Bella Hadid managed to make her way to the top as a model. There are even rumors of Kardashian sisters, Kendal and Kylie, participating in yachting. 

Now, one famous celebrity who admitted herself to having been a yacht girl in the past is Emily Ratajkowski. In her 2021 memoir, My Body, she details an experience when she was paid $25,000 at the start of her career to attend financier ​Jho Low’s yacht parties. Jho Low is a controversial figure who is known for his yachting parties. 

Ratajkowski admits that at the time, she wasn’t aware of what was expected of her, and what she was supposed to do while she was there. She didn’t know the rules and wasn’t even sure when she was supposed to leave, or how long she was supposed to stay at the party. 

So, how much of the rumors are real?

There is no doubt that yachting is a real thing – The Hollywood Reporter was the first, but not the last media news outlet to investigate prostitution during The Cannes Film Festival and find many young women making up to $40,000 per night for attending parties and providing sexual favors for influential men. 

However, most of the rumors about celebrity yachting are just that, rumors. Apart from a very brief Ratajkowski’s mention in her memoir, not many celebrities have come out and openly admitted attending these parties and providing sexual favors in exchange for career advancements. 

There are rumors of supposed photos and videos of certain celebrities on yachts. However, these pictures are not publicly available, so once again, they all remain stipulation. 

Whether celebrities participate in yachting or not, though, it is a problematic thing. Human Trafficking Foundation believes that the Cannes might just be the tip of the iceberg and that many young women are victims of yachting, left with negative and often traumatizing experiences.