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Anger Mounts In Italy Over Ambani’s Opulent Pre-Wedding Cruise Celebration

Radhika Merchant

Residents and businesses in Portofino and Genoa are furious over shutdowns and noise disruptions caused by attendees at a pre-wedding celebration for the younger son of India’s wealthiest individual, Mukesh Ambani. Ambani hosted a four-day luxury cruise from Palermo to the south of France and back, celebrating his son Anant’s engagement to Radhika Merchant, the daughter of a wealthy industrialist. The cruise included stops in Rome, Portofino, Genoa, and Cannes for a series of parties.

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The wedding, scheduled for 12 July, began with a pre-wedding celebration in Ambani’s hometown of Jamnagar in March. Reportedly, Ambani spent $150 million on a three-day gala for over 1,200 guests, featuring bejeweled elephants and a performance by American singer Rihanna.

The cruise, marking the second pre-wedding celebration, embarked on 29 May and stopped at Portofino on 1 June for a party titled La Dolce Vita, capturing the essence of an Italian summer.

Despite a strict no-phones policy, leaked videos revealed that American band Backstreet Boys and singer Katy Perry were among the entertainers, with at least 800 attendees.

Backlash and Local Outrage

The festivities angered Portofino locals and businesses as the entire bay was blocked off, denying access to residents and tourists. Portofino, a favorite spot for celebrity weddings, had never been closed down for any event before. Nearly a dozen restaurants were offered amounts ranging from €7,000 to €10,000 to cater the event, which included dishes like focaccia, paneer tikka, and beetroot goat cheese kebab.

Andrea Miroli, manager of the renowned restaurant Il Puny, expressed his dissatisfaction, revealing they were requested to provide lobster sandwiches and were notified only 20 days before the event. He described the offer of €10,000 as offensive and disrespectful, emphasizing the need to protect his customers and the restaurant’s reputation.

Public Outcry

Residents and tourists took to social media to voice their grievances. One user on X complained that many celebrities and billionaires have celebrated in Portofino without restricting access to others. A tourist expressed frustration at being unable to see Portofino’s main attractions due to a private event organized by an Indian or Pakistani billionaire, noting that past events never closed off the area.

Local entrepreneurs, who typically view large events as beneficial for business, were unimpressed. A local tour guide expressed disappointment at the closure, highlighting its negative impact on tourism-dependent livelihoods.

The party also disrupted Genoa when the cruise ship arrived early on Sunday, 2 June, blasting loud music. Residents reported the disturbance to local police, who allegedly took no action despite being called at 4:30 am. A local firefighter criticized the organizers, stating that they kept half of Genoa awake with loud music until dawn. The Coast Guard was also reportedly unresponsive.

Mukesh Ambani, Asia’s wealthiest individual, has investments in oil, retail, telecommunications, and various other sectors.

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