Owning a private island is an uber-luxurious treat one can imagine. But for some, purchasing a slice of paradise is virtual reality. This OpinionFront write-up brings to you a list of private islands owned by billionaires.
“Money doesn’t buy you happiness, but it buys you a big enough yacht to sail right up to it.”
― Johnny Depp (on buying a private island)
The preps of being a billionaire? A luxurious life, private planes, properties, paparazzi, names shining in gold, and … wait a minute, did we just hear owning a private island? Whoa! Now that is what we call being seriously rich. As if the madness for luxury cars, planes, and mansions were not enough, owning an entire island in scenic waters on earth comes as the new high for the ultra rich.
So, is it just the money or the element of fantasy that makes these billionaires buy private islands? No, there is a far more priced reason, which is ‘privacy’. Without a modernized living, 24×7 security and cameras, where else could you sneak away for a break without being followed by paparazzi than your own private island? Plus, there is always the scope to extract business opportunities from it!
Exotic Islands that Billionaires Own
Cost: $500-$600 million
Owner: Larry Ellison
Business: Oracle Co-founder
Area: 89,920 acres
Larry Ellison, the third richest person in the US and also the sixth richest person in the world owns one of the finest jewels on water. ‘Lanai’ is the sixth largest island in Hawaii, and 98% of this island is purchased by Ellison. The remaining 2% of this island is owned by the government and locals. The purchase of this pristine island by Ellison from billionaire David Murdock is the most expensive transaction in the history of real estate islands till date. So, third richest even after spending a whopping $600 million? Well, talk about us feeling poor by the end of the month! (*sigh!*)
New Holland Island
Location: Saint Petersburg, Russia
Cost: $400 million
Owner: Roman Abramovich
Business: Owner – Millhouse LLC, Chelsea Football Club
Area: 18 acres
New Holland Island located in Saint Petersburg Canal in Russia was an ex-military base, until Russian business tycoon Roman Abramovich purchased the 18-acre island for $400 million! The island takes its name after its resemblance to areas in Amsterdam. The island is now up for renovation, and Roman Abramovich plans to turn this triangular island in a cultural center. Architects have been called for a bid for transforming this island. The new look of this island is expected to be revealed in another six years.
Location: British Virgin Islands
Owner: Richard Branson
Business: Owner – Virgin empire
Area: 74 acres
Business titan Richard Branson owns a stunning piece of paradise called Necker Island, located in the British Virgin Islands. This purchase was made in the year 1978 for a total amount of £175,000 pounds. Necker Island is also available for private rentals and operates as a resort to accommodate 28 guests. The beautiful waters, coral reefs, wildlife, and flora and fauna are the perfect getaway; however, all at $53,000 a night! But want to know about a priceless view on this island? It is the 500 odd flamingos that have made Necker Island their home!
Cost: $150 – $200 million
Owner: Ekaterina Rybolovleva
Business: Russian billionaire heiress
Area: 1,433 acres
Ekaterina Rybolovleva, the daughter of Russian billionaire, Dmitry Rybolovlev, purchased the beautiful island of Skorpios situated in the Ionian sea, located off the western coast of Greece. The island was previously owned by Athina Onassis, granddaughter of Greek shipping tycoon, Aristotle Onassis. The purchase was made in 2013. Though the exact price of purchase is not known, the deal is believed to be sealed between $150 to 200 million!
Musha Cay Islands
Cost: $150 million (Net worth)
Owner: David Copperfield
Business: Renowned magician
Area: 700 acres
The illusionist wanted a paradise of his own to create yet another playground of magic. World-famous magician David Copperfield purchased the ‘Musha Cay Islands’, which is a group of 11 small islets located in the southern part of Bahamas in 2005 for $50 million. The location of this serene island is in the zone, which has the largest collection of private islands in the Bahamas. The magician has developed the island into a mystical resort with adventures, treasure hunts, luxurious villas, and water sports. All this, for a holy $32,250 a night!
Cost: $19 million
Owner: Craig McCaw
Business: U.S. cell phone pioneer
Area: 780 acres
James Island, located 1.5 miles off the coast of Vancouver Island, was purchased by Craig McCaw, CEO of McCaw Cellular Communications in 1994 for $19 million. He has since developed the island, but not at the cost of losing its natural beauty. Smoking is banned on the island, and only electric vehicles are used for transport. All power lines are laid underground. The island also boasts of a spacious house spanning over 5,000 sq. ft., a pool, an airstrip, a private dock, guest cottages, and also a golf course designed by the legendary golf champion Jack Nicklaus.
Rooster Cay/Long Cay
Cost: $15 million
Owner: Eddie Murphy
Area: 15 acres
One of the highest paid stars and comedian, Eddie Murphy purchased a luxurious slice of paradise called Rooster Cay in 2007 for $15 million. This island is located just a few minutes away from the city of Nassau in Bahamas. Rooster Cay is believed to be suitable for future commercial development. However, it is still not clear whether the island would be converted to a luxury resort or would it remain as a naïve paradise for a private getaway of the actor. The actor also reportedly owns another speck of Bahamian Cay called ‘Pearl’.
Cost: $15 million
Owner: Mel Gibson
Area: 5,400 acres
Actor Mel Gibson too, joins the list of famous people owning a spot in the Fiji islands. He purchased a tropical island named ‘Mago Island’ for a cool $15 million in 2005. Interestingly, this island is also one of the largest privately owned islands of the South Pacific. It is almost the size of a small country! The population on this island is scarce, and there are only a few caretakers residing there. And no, Mel Gibson does not plan on developing it into a resort, thus preserving its natural beauty. A modest vacation home is all that would adorn this paradise in the Fiji’s. Sigh of relief for the environmentalists I see!
Location: New York
Cost: $11 million
Owner: Louis Moore Bacon
Business: Investment Banker
Area: 445 acres
Wall Street Financier Louis Moore Bacon bought an island named ‘Robins Island’ located off the coast of Long Island in New York in 1993. The island has got Louis Bacon dig deep in his pockets to millions for restoration, which will help improve and preserve the island’s natural habitat and beauty. The island has a vacation home for the Bacon family and also sports a helipad!
Location: San Juan Islands
Cost: $13.5 million
Owner: Paul Allen
Area: 292 acres
Paul Allen, a billionaire investor, purchased Allan Island, which is located in San Juan Islands in the Pacific Ocean, off the coast of Anacortes in Washington in 1992. The purchase price of this island was $13.5 million. The island is reportedly named after a navy hero, and Paul Allen planned on building a vacation home here. However, his vacation home was built on another piece of paradise, named Lopez Island nearby. So, Allan Island now has only a dock, a caretaker’s cabin, and a grass airstrip. Adding to this is the drawback that this island has no electricity. Roping in electricity would add another investment of $3 million. (And it is up for sale. Hands anybody?)
Cost: $10 million
Owner: Richard Branson
Business: Owner – Virgin empire
Area: 120 acres
Richard Branson has yet another jewel in the collection of his empires on water. Mosquito Island, located off the coast of Virgin Gorda, was bought by Branson in 2007 for a humble $10 million. This island is rich in eco-diversity and is also one of the densest rainforest regions. So, is there a luxurious resort on the cards? No, rather, Branson plans to make this island the most eco-friendly and develop the biodiversity of this island. Nice thought for the penny I say!
The list for our luxurious ten ends here. However, we simply couldn’t miss a few more names that own exotic and breathtaking islands.
Owner: Michael Schumacher
The World is a man-made island located off the coast of United Arab Emirates. Worth $7 million, this island was a parting gift to Schumacher from Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum after his Grand Pix in Brazil.
Little Halls Pond Cay
Owner: Johnny Depp
Depp bought ‘Little Halls Pond Cay’ located in the Bahamas in 2004 for $3.6 million.
This tropical piece of sand is Depp’s favorite holiday destination!
Owner: David and Frederick Barclay
Brecqhou, located in the English Channel Islands, was bought by the business tycoons – Barclay brothers in 1993 for $4.3 million. The 80-acre island is loaded with picturesque gardens, vineyards, pubs, and also a village with a chapel.
Owner: Faith Hill and Tim McGraw
Music stars Faith Hill and Tim McGraw are neighbors to Johnny Depp in the Bahamas, as the couple own a 17-acre island called ‘Goat Cay’ in the Exumas, purchased in 2008.
Owner: Nicholas Cage
The turquoise waters and sands of Bahamas have many a celebrity come close as neighbors. Actor Nicholas Cage owns a private island named Leaf Cay, purchased in 2006. The actor spent $3 million on this island in the Exuma Cays, neighboring many other islands owned by celebrities.
Owner: Leonardo DiCaprio
The Titanic star purchased an island named ‘Blackadore Caye’ in Belize. The purchase was done in 2005 for $1.75 million.
With many more joining the bandwagon for purchasing private islands, we wonder what will be next in line for these billionaires and their spending fancies! A piece of land on the Moon or Mars …? Maybe.