Ellison's island puts Oracle boss in select company

Caleb Garling
June 28, 2012


Oracle boss Larry Ellison is now the proud owner of Hawaii’s sixth-largest island.

Ellison agreed to purchase 98 percent of the Hawaiian island of Lanai and, true to his reputation, he closed the deal quickly. That means 2 percent isn’t his. But he wouldn’t like us exposing his shortcomings.

Indeed, Lanai is far from small. It spans 140 square miles, making it about three times larger than the city of San Francisco. It was once owned by James Dole, the pineapple magnate, who bought it in the 1920s for one of his many pineapple plantations, and it’s the modern incarnation of his Dole Food Company — Castle & Cooke — that’s now selling the land to Ellison.

With the buy, estimated at between $500 million and $600 million, Ellison joins an exclusive club. Few people have the cash, the desire, and the ego to purchase an entire island — or at least most of one. The club includes such big names as Ted Turner, Leonardo DiCaprio, Mel Gibson, Robin Williams, Johnny Depp, Eddie Murphy, and Diana Ross, and past members span everyone from Marlon Brando to Gianni Agnelli, Baron Rothschild, and Laurance Rockefeller.

Yes, some purchase islands for reasons of privacy — Charles Lindbergh is a prime example — but we can safely say that with Ellison, there are other forces at work. The remaining 2 percent of Lanai is owned by other residents, and his portion includes two large resorts.

Certainly, others have purchased more exotic islands. In 2005, Gibson paid $15 million for the roughly 9-square-mile Mago Island (above), part of the Fuji island chain. But in at least one respect, Ellison may have them all beat.

According to reports, Ellison will pay between $500 million and $600 million for the Lanai property.

Chris Krolow — CEO of Private Islands Inc., a real estate company that sells, yes, private islands — says his most expensive sale topped out at about 150 million euro, or roughly $188 million. But he does say that in private island market, many sale prices are not disclosed.

“Lanai doesn’t really fit into the category of islands that are traded on a regular basis,” says Krolow. “This kind of purchase is extremely rare, and it’s probably the most expensive island sold.”

Read on for more photos of islands owned by the rich and famous.

Shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis married Jackie Kennedy on Skorpios, his private island off the coast of Greece, seen here in the distance.

Sir David Rowat Barclay and Sir Frederick Hugh Barclay, the twin behemoths of the British financial world, are the owners of Brecqhou, an island in the English channel.

Dean Kamen -- inventor of the Segway -- calls his island off the coast of Connecticut "The Kingdom of North Dumpling."

Sir Richard Branson — the CEO of British conglomerate Virgin — owns three islands, including Necker Island, part of the British Virgin Islands.

Charles Lindbergh bought Île Illiec, off the coast of France, in 1938, in the wake of his son's murder at the hands of kidnappers.

Bell's Island in the Bahamas was owned by Britain's Baron Rothschild.

Silver screen legend Marlon Brando was godfather of Tetiaroa, an island in French Polynesia.

Sandy Cay -- the small island in the center of this photo of the British Virgin Islands -- was owned by Laurance Rockefeller, scion of the John Rockefeller family.