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Copley would have to pay the use tax in California (8 percent of $33 million) unless the vessel was gone for a full year, according to John Hrabe, communications director for Board of Equalization member Michelle Steel. In any case, the Board of Equalization will not reveal use-tax records of individual Californians.

Copley's new yacht is not even registered with the U.S. Coast Guard, according to the Dona Jenkins Maritime Document Service, based in San Diego. Maybe Copley does not intend to bring his yacht into U.S. waters. That doesn't mean he will take a permanent vacation from his company. He could park the yacht and fly back at any time. Or do some work electronically, as many executives do.

Copley Press did not return calls for comment. Delta Marine refused to say anything beyond its press releases, which discussed the vessel's opulence but did not identify its owner.

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