Criticisms mount over Asia’s richest billionaire Ambani heir’s European cruise ship pre-wedding

June 8, 2024 | 03:17 pm PT
The pre-wedding festivities of Anant Ambani, the son of billionaire Mukesh Ambani, and Radhika Merchant have sparked outrage among locals and tourists in Italian cities for its noise and restricting access to popular tourist destinations.
Anant Ambani, the son of billionaire Mukesh Ambani, and his bride-to-be Radhika Merchant. Photo from Radhika Merchants fanpages Instagram

Anant Ambani, the son of billionaire Mukesh Ambani, and his bride-to-be Radhika Merchant. Photo from Radhika Merchant's fanpage's Instagram

According to The Independent, locals of Portofino reported that the entire bay was inaccessible due to the celebration, leaving people unable to visit key sights. Complaints escalated when the city, previously selected as a wedding venue by numerous celebrities including Australian singer Sia and American personality Kourtney Kardashian, had never been completely shut down for such events.

"I couldn’t see the main attractions of Portofino this weekend due to a private event organized by an Indian or Pakistani billionaire for his spoiled son," a tourist wrote on social media. "There have been many events hosted by billionaires in the past, but none have ever closed the area."

The event also saw almost a dozen local restaurants catering to the Ambani party. Il Puny, known for having hosted celebrities like American actor Denzel Washington and former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, was part of the catering team.

However, the eatery’s manager Andrea Miroli expressed to The Times his displeasure about the late notice and the demands of the event, stating: "We were offered 10,000 euros (US$10,804) just 20 days before the event."

"I find this offensive, bad mannered and incorrect," he added. "I have my customers and an illustrious history to protect."

Further grievances were aired in Genoa, where residents reported enduring sleepless nights due to loud music from a cruise ship associated with the festivities.

"They kept half of Genoa awake with the high, unjustified volume for most of the night before it stopped at dawn," A local firefighter reported. "What’s worse is the coast guard did nothing, despite being called at 4:30a.m."

The celebration was held aboard the Celebrity Ascent cruise ship, which embarked on a 4,380-kilometer voyage from Palermo, Italy on May 29, concluding in the south of France. The journey included stops at major cities such as Rome, Portofino, Genoa, and Cannes.

According to The Times of India, the event cost 12 billion rupees (US$144 million). This followed earlier celebrations in Jamnagar, India in March, which reportedly cost 120 million pounds (US$153.6 million), as noted by the Daily Mail.

Anant, 28, is the youngest son of Mukesh Ambani, the leader of the Reliance Industries conglomerate, which boasts annual revenues of US$110 billion.

As of June 8, Forbes estimated Mukesh Ambani’s net worth to be US$115.2 billion, positioning him as the wealthiest individual in Asia and the 11th richest globally.

Radhika, 29, is the daughter of Shri Viren Merchant, CEO of the well-known Indian healthcare firm Encore Healthcare.

Alumni of American universities, Anant and Radhika are set to wed in England in July.

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