Jeff Greene brushes off raucous party boat tales

CORRECTION: Boxer Mike Tyson's July interview with Sports Illustrated described his travels in Europe during the summer of 2005, not 2007 when he served as Jeff Greene's best man. In addition, Tyson has since made clear that the 2005 events he described to Sports Illustrated involving a drug dealer from Amsterdam did not occur aboard Greene's yacht and that he "didn't do drugs on the boat." An earlier version of this story was incorrect.

Back in the summer of 2005, Jeff Greene was living the dream — a single, super-successful guy with a mega yacht.

The photos tell the story: Greene walking the beach in St. Tropez, France, with his pal Mike Tyson and a bevy of bikini-clad women; Greene and Tyson boogying in a smoky club surrounded by young women; a group of women in Romania boarding Greene's 145-foot yacht, the Summerwind, at night; Greene and Tyson visiting an 11th century monastery in Ukraine.

Nobody batted an eye when a 2009 book, The Greatest Trade Ever, mentioned Greene's Black Sea yachting adventure that summer:

"Greene brought two Ukrainian strippers on board to make a cameo appearance and hired stewardesses from coastal towns to serve as his crew. Some doubled as massage therapists, which came in handy after a day of scuba diving, Jet Skiing or kayaking," wrote Wall Street Journal reporter Gregory Zuckerman.

After Greene, 55, suddenly jumped into Florida's Democratic U.S. Senate primary in April, however, people inquired about that vignette.

"Jeff was traveling on his boat with his rabbi and his younger brother to visit Jewish sites in Romania and Odessa," a campaign spokesman said in May, denying the stripper story.

Then, just as Greene was gaining momentum against U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek in a race for the Democratic nomination, Tyson went and told Sports Illustrated about that summer when he spent so much time with Greene.

"I was in St. Tropez, in the South of France. In Ibiza, Spain. I was in Monte Carlo. I was in the Ukraine, Russia, all those places, for three months. From Russia I went to Lisbon, Portgual, from Portugal I went to Amsterdam. In Amsterdam I met this drug dealer, right? And he sees that I like getting high, and he wants to be my buddy, right? This guy goes and gets me a big rock of cocaine. So pretty soon I got a party going on. I got everything: I got these rugby players. I got these naked girls, I got all these ... everything's going on in the room. Plus I also had this girl with me that I picked up in Romania. But then [the dealer he met in Amsterdam] saw how much of a mess I was. He came in and kicked everybody out of my room! All the nude people, all the people having sex. He said, 'I feel so bad I ever gave him that stuff,' " Tyson said in an interview published in July.

Next thing you know Politico was on the phone, asking about Greene's adventures with Iron Mike.

No, Greene said, he didn't go to Amsterdam with Tyson, who was only on board about a month. No, he didn't see any drug-taking or take any drugs himself.

"I don't know what Mike Tyson did when I was not with him, but Summerwind has a zero tolerance for drugs or any illegal activity,'' Greene told the St. Petersburg Times, noting that he has paid for drug rehab for Tyson.

Later, Tyson himself told Politico he "didn't do drugs on the boat."

Greene tends to get testy when reporters ask him about celebrity pals like Tyson and Hollywood madam Heidi Fleiss or what Vanity Fair called a Moroccan "love den" in one of his California mansions. Nor does he hide his annoyance when reporters ask him about former Summerwind employees describing the yacht as a party palace. Or about Summerwind allegedly damaging reefs in Belize or visiting the normally off-limits Cuba (first described as a Jewish humanitarian mission and later as a stop for repairs).

"There's a million people not working in Florida. Why are we talking about the yacht all the time?'' Greene said in a recent interview. "I care too much about my country to spend all my time talking about a yacht and Mike Tyson. Nobody cares about that except you."

Kendrick Meek says he cares and so do Florida voters.

"Everyone knows the Mike Tyson story, and it goes toward Jeff Greene's judgment,'' said Meek, 43. "He wants to select a convicted rapist to be his best man and he wants to parade around with him."

On Greene picking Tyson to be his best man, Meek offers an observation hard to disagree with: "It's definitely not on the-things-to-do list if you want to run for public office."

Greene much prefers to talk about his 9-month-old son than Tyson. He says he doesn't even drink anything except for occasional glasses of wine and the talk of him as a party boy is nonsense. Activities on the Summerwind revolve around kayaking, Jet Skis and Friday night Shabbat, he said, not wild parties.

Assorted former Summerwind employees describing loads of partying and unpleasant dealings with Greene, he says, are disgruntled, lying ex-staffers.

Yet the Summerwind's reputation in the yachting world is of a dysfunctional yacht with a tyrannical owner in an atmosphere that until recently had been that of a party boat.

Take Sharyn Peach, a 42-year-old graphic designer in Fort Lauderdale who said she quit working as a stewardess on the yacht after a month because of nonstop, late-night parties in the Hamptons in the summer of 2006. She provided a portion of her journal from that period.

One entry:

Aug 14, 06 Sag Harbour NY

"Last night's party was interesting to say the least! ... Naked, drunken people everywhere! Freakin' weirdo's, bumping & grinding all over the place."

In an interview, Peach said Greene was miserable to work for, but she never saw him engaged in drunken, sexual behavior.

"I did see these girls rubbing and grinding on him, and he looked like he couldn't be bothered,'' Peach recounted.

Scoffed Greene: "That's utter nonsense."

Other, more recent former employees who have little nice to say about Greene as a boss, acknowledge that they didn't see such wildness on Summerwind.

"There were a couple girls aboard running around naked, but for Fort Lauderdale standards that was pretty tame," said deckhand John Walenczyk, who worked for Greene in 2007.

Adam C. Smith can be reached at asmith@sptimes.com.

Jeff Greene brushes off raucous party boat tales 08/12/10 [Last modified: Thursday, August 19, 2010 1:37pm]

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