No man is an island? Does that include Larry Ellison?
A week or so ago, I saw in the news that Oracle’s CEO, Larry Ellison, is buying the island of Lana‘i.
Well, I suppose that folks buy islands all the time. But probably most of those don’t cover141 square miles and have actual people living on them. So it struck me as somewhat peculiar, even though, in order for someone to buy an island of this size, someone else would have to own it already.So this is not all that original a transaction. Anyway, that someone is a something: Castle & Cooke, which has “diversified business divisions [that] include:
- The Island of Lana‘i, including resorts, world-class championship golf courses and private residences.”
Among its other attributes,
Serene Lana‘i is also the perfect place to unplug, unwind and let the day unfold gently. Buyers who choose one of our Lana‘i Luxury Homes tell us that it just feels right to be there, every single time. With luxury condominiums, homes and home sites to choose from, and the special access and privileges of Island Club membership available, there is a Lana‘i Luxury Home that’s just right for you.
Serene. Unplug. Unwind. Unfold gently.
This sure sounds like the Larry Ellison I’ve been reading about, lo these many years.
Lawyers for the seller redacted a copy of the sale agreement signed May 2, saying it includes confidential information that would competitively hurt Ellison and the seller if disclosed. The Maui News previously reported the asking price was between $500 million and $600 million. (Source: HuffPo.)
Redaction, be damned!
Actually, Lar’s not buying the entire island, just 98 percent of it.
Does the other 2% belong to the owners of those luxury condominiums? I mean, if Beacon Hill were for sale, and Larry Ellison got over that serene, unplug, unwind thing, and wanted to own something a bit more urban, would our condo still belong to us?
I’m probably feeling a tiny bit territorial about Lana‘i (which, thanks to that Castle and Cooke website, I now know ho’w to punctu’ate) because it’s the only place in Hawaii I’ve ever been.
Lana’i is not lushly beautiful. Most of it used to be a Dole pineapple plantation. But it was pretty darned nice. Of course, what’s not to like when you’re on an all expenses paid week at a luxury resort and, because all those expenses are paid by your company, you don’t have to count the days off as vacation days. And you’re staying at a luxury resort with a bathroom that’s bigger (not to mention more luxurious) than your bedroom at home. And where there are bougainvillea blooming everywhere, where the water’s warm enough to swim in, and where cabana boys trail you down to the beach with towels and water bottles. Or rum umbrella drinks, if you like.
One thing it wasn’t – luxe resort aside – was all that built up.
On the one free night – when the meal wasn’t communal, but when the tab was still being picked up – I don’t recall there being more than a couple of non-resort restaurant options.
In 2001, when I was there, there were no places to shop, either. So they boat-shuttled us over to Maui, where there were plenty of places to buy ugly Aloha shirts and plastic ukuleles. And where I was able to buy hokey outfits for my nieces, plus a ukulele Christmas ornament with Mele Kalikimaka written on it. (And here you thought Bing Crosby was just White Christmas, Adeste Fideles, and Christmas in Killarney.)
The houses where the locals lived were modest affairs. I suppose most of them worked in the resorts and luxury condos. (The pineapple plantation is gone.)
The scariest thing about Lana’i was the driving. (Or, in my case, the passengering.)
We signed up for a Jeep – fortunately chauffered by my friend Joan’s husband – to take an off-roading tour of the island. Trust me when I say that there are no atheists on the island’s center-cut ridge, which probably would have had spectacular views if I hadn’t been too terrified to turn my head in either direction.
Perhaps Larry will put in a better road system.
Ellison plans to pay cash, and the deal should result in new jobs, economic stimulus and a reinvigorated local tourism industry, the application said.
"The buyer anticipates making substantial investments in Lanai and is looking forward to partnering with the people of Lanai to chart the island's future," Castle & Cooke lawyers said in the application.
Enterprise applications for everyone!
Not only will Larry be getting all that land, all those building, but he’ll also be the owner of:
– a water company, a bus and shuttle service, and the island's wastewater utility.
Kind of like playing Monopoly, only with real money and real utilities.
As I said, it does seem very peculiar to be owning such an extensive property, where people other than you and yours make their lives. It seems well beyond plantation ownership, and on into the realm of imperialism.
Anyway, in preparation for the Springsteen Fenway concert in August, I’ve been listening to The Boss, and some lines from Badlands would seem to apply here:
Poor man wanna be rich, rich man wanna be king,
And a king ain’t satisfied till he rules everything.
Even the water utility.
I guess that Larry Ellison’s thinking right now that it’s petty darned good to be king.