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Judith R: the American commuter yacht

Meet Judith R: The 57-foot American commuter yacht which could be yours for £1.25m

By Lexi Goodland on 18th August 2020

Have you ever wondered what intimate luxury at sea looks like? Well, if you have, look no further than this beautiful 1935 Art Deco vessel currently lying in Marlow, Buckinghamshire on brokerage with Stanley and Thomas.

Judith R, a yacht designed with pleasure and entertainment in mind, was originally commissioned by Barney Balaban, the president of Paramount Pictures from 1935 to 1974 and named after his daughter Judith Rose Balaban. The 57-foot yacht was built by Robinson Marie on Lake Michigan in 1935 and has sailed through a life of glitz and glamour, likely welcoming stars like Grace Kelly, Audrey Hepburn and Marlene Dietrich aboard its deck for A-list evenings with the Paramount president himself.

Back in the day, this glorious vessel was decked out in the state-of-the-art materials of that era: plywood and linoleum. Having taken great influences from the luxury, glamour and exuberance of the Art Deco styling, whilst also adapting to what is recognised as Streamlined Moderne styling – a slightly more subtle and understated development of Art Deco that followed the post-Depression era – Judith R boasted a sleek hull, a beautifully painted stateroom with mahogany panelling, plywood interior and cabin top, and linoleum underfoot, plus an incredibly powerful pair of V8 Chrysler Crusader petrol engines allowing the yacht to sail along at an impressive 30 knots. Her semi-displaced hull allowed her to achieve these high speeds in water whilst still maintaining excellent stability.

Judith R: the American commuter yacht
Judith R, a yacht designed with pleasure and entertainment in mind, was originally commissioned by Barney Balaban, the president of Paramount Pictures from 1935 to 1974 and named after his daughter Judith Rose Balaban

Sadly, after the death of Barney Balaban in 1971, and the sale of the boat in 1974 to a New York city subway engineer, Edward Imbroll, this once beautiful vessel suffered a 30-year period of decay and decline until it was found by Susanne and David Williams in 2004 who took on the epic project of returning this once magnificent boat to its former glory. Taking on the challenge of transporting Judith R from Chesapeake Bay estuary in the United States, all the way to her final morning point at Wootten’s Boatyard in Cookham Dean on the River Thames, was just the first hurdle of what came to be an incredible 12-year restoration process.

Over these 12 years, Judith R underwent an extensive rejuvenation that transported her all the way back to her 1935 glory days. Whilst some modern conveniences have found their way into this born-again yacht – including a pair of Caterpillar C12 engines, state of the art electrics, a navigation system, air conditioning and even a boiling water tap – her aesthetic and decor remains as glorious as ever and will no doubt take you back to the heyday of her original streamlined Art Deco style.

Her exterior boasts a painted iroko hardwood hull on oak frames, beautifully varnished mahogany topsides, teak decks and spruce rubbing strips, and her interior – although it may have strayed from the fine plywood and linoleum materials that were once popular in her time – now feature maple, burr maple, mahogany and most of her original metal work, meaning that each onboard living space looks much like it did in 1935.

Judith R: the American commuter yacht
Judith R has undergone an extensive rejuvenation that has transported her all the way back to her 1935 glory days

Susanne and David did their absolute best to save some of the exceptionally unique and special fittings that belonged to Judith R, such as the teardrop navigation lights and the original compass, which can still be found on the boat today, as well as re-chroming and restoring many other original internal fittings. When certain features had been lost or were too damaged to repair, extensive research and sourcing was carried out by the couple to find the exact make and model to replace the original, with no expense spared.

For the last three years, Judith R has been under the expert management and skippering of Classic Yacht Management who have ensured this vessel has received the finest upkeep and maintenance, and very recently, this magnificent boat has been listed for sale and has been placed under the care of Stanley and Thomas Brokerage who are currently holding viewings. Should this wonder of a yacht meet all your dreams and desires, Classic Yacht Management are willing to continue the upkeep of the boat if it stays in the area, or alternatively ensure its lucky new owners are well aware of how to handle her on their own.

Visit Stanley and Thomas Brokerage for more information on Judith R.

Take a look inside this beautiful vessel:

Judith R: the American commuter yacht

Judith R: the American commuter yacht

Judith R: the American commuter yacht

Judith R: the American commuter yacht

Judith R: the American commuter yacht

Judith R: the American commuter yacht

Judith R: the American commuter yacht