Billionaires Bezos, Zuckerberg, Oprah and Ellison Pony Up Big In Hawaii

There have been a lot of negative comments here about billionaires including Jeff Bezos and Mark Zuckerberg staking big and expanding real estate claims here in Hawaii. As you know, Bezos has Maui, for Zuckerberg, it’s Kauai, and Ellison has Lanai. So here’s the latest that they’re doing to ingratiate themselves to Hawaii and why.

Bezos’s acquisitions continue on Maui.

As you know, Bezos recently acquired a prized oceanfront estate consisting of 14-acres on Maui at La Perouse Bay, south of Wailea.

He is said to be shopping for yet more real estate on the Valley Isle, including a home for his parents at their fav Montage Kapalua Bay, about an hour’s drive away from his current La Perouse Bay digs.

How Bezos is helping Maui.

Jeff Bezos’ Day One Families Fund has provided a $2.5M grant to the Family Life Center; a nonprofit focused on homelessness on Maui, as well as Molokai and Kauai. This second round doubled last year’s $1.25M donation from Bezos.

Bezos’ fund provides annual awards to groups doing important work in homelessness. This year the fund donated $96M, of which the Maui foundation received about 3%. Will that increase over time? We can’t say. The fund plans to donate $2B to fund nonprofit organizations worldwide focused on the homeless and to create a network of preschools for low-income communities.

Oprah’s land-hunt on Maui.

Sometimes referred to as Maui’s queen, Oprah may be the largest landowner on the island at this point with thousands of acres. Word recently that billionaire Oprah Winfrey is pursuing more Maui real estate, and she has just acquired a 3-acre upcountry Kula property adjacent to her other real estate there.

The latest purchase was a relatively modest $7 million deal for the agricultural property, including a building. That in spite of it having an assessed value of less than $.5 million.

Oprah has been poised on Maui, as a part-time resident, for nearly two decades.

How Oprah is helping Maui.

Her charitable foundation just provided a $100,000 grant to the Women’s Fund of Hawaii.

Zuckerberg on Kauai.

Recently, the controversial Facebook founder purchased 600 more acres on Kauai, bringing his island empire to a massive 1,300 acres.

Zuckerberg’s previous Kauai buy was a whopping 700 acres with access to the white sanded Pilaa Beach, including an organic farm, sugar plantation, and more.

Read about Zuckerberg 600 Acres on Kauai At Larsens Beach

How Zuckerberg is helping Kauai.

Recently, Zuckerberg provided over $4M to help Kauai. In addition, this week, he acquired the largest fishpond on Kauai for another $4 Million donation.

The 600-year-old Menehune (Alakoko) fish pond nearby Lihue Airport consists of over 100 acres. It has been for sale for years prior to this at various amounts up to $12 million and was recently listed at $3 million. Zuckerberg stepped in via a 4M donation to the Trust For Public Land to help acquire the fish pond to preserve it culturally and environmentally.

Ellison on Lanai.

Oracle founder Larry Ellison took it to the next level when he bought the island of Lanai and moved full-time to Hawaii last year. He acquired 98% of Lanai for a mere $300 million back in 2012. Ellison joins the secluded and beautiful 140 square mile island’s other 3,000 residents. He decided to move to the island during COVID.

His ownership includes the island’s two Four Seasons managed resorts. The latest is the small Sensei luxury spa hotel that incorporates fine dining and art, medical evaluation, and adventure camp too, starting at a mere $800 per day. “Beginning with a complimentary, semi-private flight from Honolulu, every stay includes luxurious accommodations and a rotating collection of daily activities such as yoga, meditation, hiking, and lectures. Here, best-in-class wellness practitioners turn to innovative technology and heartfelt intention to enhance your wellbeing.”

How Ellison is helping Lanai.

We were unable to find anything about his charitable interests on the island. He does, however, serve as essentially the only employer on Lanai.

What’s your take: Is Hawaii benefiting from these billionaires who live full or part-time in the islands?


57 thoughts on “Billionaires Bezos, Zuckerberg, Oprah and Ellison Pony Up Big In Hawaii”

  1. Oprah visited Lanai. Spent time at a shelter for fire victims.
    Question; why did she feel the need to bring a film crew ?

  2. Yes, they are buying up land and donating to causes in Hawaii. Then the day will come when they throw all the locals off the island except for skilled workers.

  3. I hope that instead of buying land American billionaires could donate enough money to rebuild lahaina. That would help residents more than anything. Oprah donated pillows & blankets, really?? Since she owned many acres, show them the money!

  4. Why? And why such large amounts of land being sold to any individual? Will the natives and those living on these islands be able to access the areas? Visitors? Are they preserving the land and culture? Sharing and educating visitors? Hawaii is special and I’d hate to see it closed off and inaccessible except to the wealthy few……donations? The least they can do but it seems they are receiving so much more….

  5. The wealthy have and continue to drive Native Hawaiians out because they can’t afford to live on what used to be their own land. Check out what a million dollars will buy you in HI. Not much.
    To be fair, much of the problem in Hawaii hasn’t just been created by foreigners, but by the state of HI and a few wealthy families such as the Bishops who jointly own most of the acreage on all islands. I find Oprah donating a $100,000 grant offensive. Common, Oprah, you’re a billionaire! That would be like me donating a dollar to a cause and bragging about it.

  6. I think it’s sad that any one person is able to buy large amounts of land, how many acres do you need, seriously? How much consideration is given to the native Hawaiians and the rise of number of Native Hawaiians going homeless or being forced to leave because they are unable to afford living costs. The contributions are great but, are they enough to make a difference especially when you’re a billionaire? As for thinking your helping by giving someone a job what exactly are you paying them?

  7. Seems like you left out all of the obvious things that all of these billionaires do for Hawaii by buying up so much property… like preserving it from development… like providing jobs–and supporting countless local contractors and businesses… like paying huge amounts of property taxes–for services they will never use… like public schools… and welfare / EBT / health insurance, etc. They’re only here a few weeks or months out of the year but add 100x more to the local economy than most

  8. I’m not sure who refers to Oprah as “the queen of Maui” but she does NOT behave at all like the previous ali’i of these beautiful islands. Besides buying up Hawaiian Land left and right, she throws the billionaires equivalent of pennies ($100,000 ) to her “kingdom”. Princess Pauahi, Queen Liliuokalani, King David Kalakaua have all left a legacy of love and support for the Hawaiian People, the likes of which Oprah couldn’t possibly comphend let alone duplicate. She’s not my queen.

    1. Meh. Oprah doesn’t owe “the people” of Maui or anywhere else anything at all. She already contributes 10 to 100x more to the locals and their economy than the average islander does–just in property taxes–for services she has never used and never will… like school taxes (she has no children–and if she did, they wouldn’t go to Hawaii’s public schools)–not to mention the jobs she creates and businesses she supports.

  9. I live in Maui full time and I think to preserve the islands and the communities these people will be our hope that the islands can stay as beautiful and as low density as they can by helping the people who have been here all there lives. I live in a small condo but every day I live near beauty I would hate to see if ruined by more building it’s hard to see so many tourists that don’t care about the island. We also need to become more independent and not rely on the mainland for all our food.0

  10. The invasion of these America oligarchs to our Islands is a disaster in the long term, as it will lead to over-development and such high housing prices local people, especially native Hawaiians will be forced to leave to survive financially. The last thing we need on Hawai’i island is for it to become a playground for the mega rich. This is another way of forcing Hawaiians off their own Islands. We have to stop this trend.

  11. They try to make it look good with their donations. But for them, that money is a drop in the bucket.
    These billionaires are not known to be land stewards. It’s doubtful they will care for the land. And, they will probably be polluters; with their planes and helicopters and boats and whatever else they bring.

  12. Land in Hawaii is finite, and competition with rich outsiders is driving housing prices through the roof. Most native Hawaiians can no longer afford to live on their native lands and must move to the mainland to survive. My dad just got my grandpa’s house (that he built in the 50’s) reappraised. It’s a 70 year old single wall 3 bed/2 bath house that is in poor condition but because it’s in Hawaii its 1.2 million. Unless inherited, most Hawaiian youth will never own a home here…

  13. I worked on practically every major resort & properties on all the islands. Left for California. 10 design & models.Melvin A.

  14. And as Ellison the only Lanai employer, does anyone know if he pays fair wages? Do employees have good benefits (health insurance, paid vacation, sick pay etc)?

  15. How are these individuals (not saying they are not good people) able to acquire ceded land owed to the hawaiians thousands and thousands of acres that is owed to the natvies of hawaii and yet they are legally, physically and emotionally struggling to have what was their inheritance still be something they can’t even get? I propose all development of our land should be halted until all natives have at least an acre of land before any land is sold or developed.

  16. Those people will pull apart these islands and feast until the bones are dry. They seem benevolent, but they use their money to bully and torture those in their way. Auwe.

  17. It is appalling that any one person should own more than 100 acres of island property. It is not necessary and restricts tax paying locals from that much more land or beach access. They significantly drive real estate prices up and their contributions to creating affordable housing are a joke. There contributions go directly to lining a few pockets in the government and nonprofit organizations. Those of us that remain trying to make honest livings, will become their slaves.


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