Discovering the yachts of William Randolph Hearst

Nautical Channel
11 Nov 2021

Despite not being the richest, William Randolph Hearst had a huge impact in the print media of his era. He owned several newspapers in every US state including Motor Boating in the yachting sector. 

His newspaper chain and media company was based on yellow journalism. It emphasized human interest stories and sensationalism to influence the nation’s popular media. His media empire reached 20 million readers a day in the mid 1930s. However during the Great Depression, most of his assets had to be liquidated despite he managed to keep control of his newspapers and magazines. 

Hearst fought a circulation war with Joseph Pulitzer’s New York World when acquiring the New York Journal. He printed giant headlines over stories featuring crime, corrruption or sex. Moreover, he sensationalized Spanish atrocities, calling for the Spanish American War and often published his personal views in the news services. 

He was elected as a Democrat to the U.S House of Representatives twice, and ran unsuccessfully for President of the United States in 1904, Mayor of New York City in 1905 and 1909 and Governor of New York in 1906. At the end of World War I, he became a fierce anti-communist and was deeply suspicious of the Leage of Nations. 

He was the main inspiration for the lead character in Orson Welles’ film Citizen Kane. William Randolph Hearst died in Los Angeles in 1951 at the age of 88. Marion Davies inherited 170,000 shares in the Hearst Corporation, giving her a controlling interest. 

A love for gossip

William Randolph’s newspapers had large amounts of “gossip columns” in order to sell more copies. For instance, one of the gossip included an incident on board one of his yachts, the Oneida in 1924. According to the news, Thomas Ince, an independent film producer and actor was allegedly shot and died on board. 

This later on turned out to be a case of food poisoning after returning home two days after leaving the yacht. In 2001 a fictitious version of Thomas Ince’s death called The Cat’s Meow. 

William Randolph Hearst owned several large steam yachts from the 1920s up to his death in 1951. Let’s discover them!


Built in 1888 by the Atlantic Iron Works in Boston (USA), it is 45.26 meters long. 


Built in 1891 by Herreshoff in Bristol (USA), it is 34.3 meters long. 


Built in 1897 by Harlan & Hollingsworth in Wilmington (USA), it is 61.26 meters long.


Built in 1911 by FCM in Le Havre, it is 88.88 meters long.