Pete Davidson and Colin Jost join in buying ferry that is 'a piece of New York'
An aerial view on August 5, 2021 of a Staten Island ferry in the Hudson River in New York (AFP)

A retired, hulking ferry of the iconic line linking Staten Island and Manhattan has been purchased by a group of investors who include popular American comedians Pete Davidson and Colin Jost.

The goal: turn it into an entertainment venue.

The orange ferry John F. Kennedy, which was commissioned in 1965, was sold by New York City to Paul Italia, a real estate agent who owns a comedy club called "The Stand," and other investors including Davidson and Jost, both cast members of the long-standing comedy show "Saturday Night Live," Italia told AFP.

The sale -- through an auction that concluded this week -- was first reported by The New York Times.

Davidson is dating reality TV star Kim Kardashian and Jost is married to the actress Scarlett Johansson.

Both men are natives of Staten Island, one of New York's boroughs, and Davidson still lives there.

The city says the ferry they have acquired is 85 meters (277 feet) long, weighs around 2,100 tons and was retired from the fleet last year when its engines broke down.

These investors won the auction with a bid of $280,100.

"The idea is to turn the space into a live entertainment event space with comedy, music, art, food, etc.," Italia told AFP.

It is not yet clear how they will move the broken down ferry from the Staten Island terminal where it is now docked as they prepare to overhaul it and seek a permanent home for the ship.

Why buy one of these vessels that is a quintessential and free-of-charge part of life in New York? To keep the ship from being scrapped, for one.

"The reality is that everyone who came together on this has a sincere motive to see the right thing happen, to restore a piece of New York," Italia told the Times.