The Monaco Yacht Show was founded in 1991 and organized by the French entrepreneur Maurice Cohen. In 1994, the rights to the event were sold to IIR, a management company that also held the rights to the Superyacht de Nice event. After attendance issues, IIR decided to focus the Monaco Yacht Show on superyachts, featuring boats range that from approximately 20 m (66 ft) to 90 m (300 ft) in length, and repurposed its event in Nice as a trade show.
The event grew to host 65 yachts in 2002 and attracted nearly 15,000 visitors. In 2005, IIR was acquired by the British event organizer Informa for $1.4 billion. By 2016, the event had more than doubled its 2002 attendance numbers and increased the number of yachts in Port Hercules to 125. That same year, the Monaco Yacht Show debuted an exhibition space for luxury automobiles called Car Deck. The Car Deck exhibition has included automobiles from Aston Martin, Bentley, Hemmels, Lamborghini, McLaren, and Mercedes-Benz. In 2017, there was an estimated €4.5 billion value in yachts in Monaco during the event.