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?


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

  1. If most people do the research; they will find out that the super rich are only purchasing large tracts of land because the property tax is the least at 0.31% of all the 50 states. Also, most “charitable foundations” are a way that the super rich can avoid paying taxes, but still control the money, and appear like they are helping the public. Not to mention that there is no state income tax in Hawaii. It’s all a tax dodge by the 1%ers!!!

    1. Aloha

      HI taxes rank 41st worst of 50 states
      4.44 % Sales Taxes
      6.4 % Business Tax
      11 % Income Tax

      Here’s what Iz had to say:

      Note 3:33

  2. As a Wailea resident I can say none of my neighbors are thrilled about Bezos buying up as much as he can. As stated before…only going to make prices even higher when billionaires come in and land grab. Unfortunately nothing can be done…it’s a free country. Don’t for one second believe the donations are anything more than write offs and trying to snow job residents into believing they care about them.

  3. I have a friend who was a bookkeeper for Ellison. She said he often buys places and makes the communities better but the average person isn’t aware of it. She left her accounting firm prior to his acquiring Lanai but when she heard he’d bought it she shook her head yes and said he was going to take care of the place, that the people of Lanai would benefit from it.

    1. Thanks TammyB for your comment. I’ve been a part of the Lanai community for 5 years and yes, Larry has and continues to support local non-profits, island children’s endeavors, land enrichments and several sustainable projects here that could benefit a much wider audience as they develop. Yes, he also has his own many projects (which employ many residents) which benefit others as well. In addition, as he envisions something new the community is pro-active to ensure their voices are heard.

  4. Larry E segregates the local Hawaiian people from the people that can go to the Four Seasons Hotels on Lana’i. There are only 3hotels on the island and he owns them. Local Hawaiian people and others that live in Lana’i are not allowed to dine in the restaurants even if a guest invites them.

  5. Oprah sends millions of dollars to foreign countries and she can only provide a $100,000 grant to the Hawaii Women’s Foundation.
    That falls short of showing appreciation for not only Hawaii, but her own country.

    1. I completely agree with your comment! Really only 100,000 for your local community! Never really cared for her and this just shows why.

  6. While their charitable donations can certainly benefit recipients, I’m not sensing much more of a benefit. The land they have purchased is clearly prime real estate which will likely become private property and closed off to others who would have enjoyed the beaches, etc. How does this land get back to the Hawaiians? Return 1/2 of the purchased land back to the Hawaiians. Now that would be something!

  7. Oprah’s $100,000 LOL- that’s pocket change to her! They All could be Way more generous when you compare the price tags of their purchases & their extreme unfathomable wealth

  8. Glad to see they donate penny’s on the dollar in relation to the wealth. What is not mentioned is their buying real estate at inflated prices forces everybody else out of the market because the prices then infkate…. Not that I want to buy anything over there anyway

  9. All of the accolades showered on these multi billionaires for their ‘generous’ gifts gives me pause. The privately supported help should rather be left to decision-making by an entity like government where voters have a say rather than left to the selected giving by a few private individuals who receive lots of applause as they continue to hoard beyond anything responsible and equitable, some not even paying their taxes. This growing wealth for an already super rich elite is really an abominatio

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