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. All we can do is hope they have the majority of the residents best interest in mind. Let’s not privatize or trash the Islands.

  2. As a Hawaiian, whose family (Ohana) along with the vast majority of Hawaiians protested the annexation of Hawaii, an Independent Nation, by the United States in 1898, it is sad seeing our lands being sold. Nobody talks about Justice for the Hawaiian people and our Nation. Try that topic on national TV Oprah, Bezos and Zuckerberg, who now owns my Ohana lands in Waipake Kauai that we had under the Hawaiian Kingdom taken by the supreme court of the territory of Hawaii in 1906. So much for Aloha.

    1. I believe its easier to just share a story i found interesting.

    2. True there should also be reservations for Hawaiians where they can govern they’re land as the please and large communities not HOA regulated homesteads. But I have no say people that have little money don’t matter in todays world.

  3. And may I also point out that no matter how much billionaires “pony up” (enriching the pockets of mostly non-native sellers & making large donations to non-profit social assistance organizations…which thankfully some of them kindly did), they will never be able to own & restrict access to our beaches. Period!

    1. I keep hearing that the Beezos property and the beach is all private. I have swam out to that beach many times. Now we have a legally private beach on Maui? Am I dreaming? It’s like Waimanalo blues.

  4. At some point these new, outsider billionaires need to reach a saturation point with their land acquisition goals. If that’s not in their game plan then they should consider doing so. It is unseemly to acquire properties costing double & triple digit millions of dollars when Native Hawaiians and others who have been living in the islands for generations are unable to afford their own properties with which to establish & raise their own families.

  5. Maybe they can solve the homeless and affordable housing problem with building homes on the land they own next to where they live. Hoarding land just makes it harder for those that need a home. I am in favor of private land planning that address the need.

  6. Weren’t the Mirikatani forced to sell off a lot of their land decades ago for buying too much? I know that Mark Zuckerberg wanted to buy native land and wall it off as his own some years back. That’s sickening…

  7. Hawaii should have laws in place voted by the people that prevent any one person organization or business from owning that much land. Owning 98% of an island county or 1500 acres of coastal property is so unnessary offensive and basically robbing Hawaiians of land. It doesn’t matter how much they give to charitable organizations. They fail to realize that land here is sacred, belongs to the people with not all that much to share.

    1. Would you rather see the rich buy & preserve the land & donante millions to causes the local government can’t, or won’t solve- or should they develop it to make even more money?

      1. Unfortunately, as in Ellison’s case, they can do both. The positive thing he provides jobs to a few thousand people in the process, but then again he can control and limit the population. Is that really ethical or moral?

  8. Compared to regular ‘Joe’s’ like you and I – these mega rich give only a tiny percentage of their income to charity. Most of it is for tax write offs. One of the few rich people who actually GAVE was Paul Newman with his ‘Newman’s Own Brand’ that gives all profits to charity. Now, that is giving. Too bad more celebs don’t do something like that. All these ‘rich and infamous’ could fund so many worthy causes if they truly cared.

    1. I agree with Colleen in that most who donate are doing it as a write-off for their own benefit. Don’t get me wrong–I’m sure the money is welcomed by the receivers but it’s still annoying for the ulterior motives. And I love Oprah but only $100,000? Really? For the “Queen of Maui” that’s probably her pocket change!

  9. They’re all idiots. But wouldn’t it be amazing if one of them could somehow get elected as mayor and / or governor??? Would be nice to have someone with a clue about how to run a profitable business behind the wheel for a change.

  10. I personally am not sure their buying up so much land in Hawaii is any different then when the Japanese were buying up much land there. is this so no one else will be able to ever be able to afford a home there on any island? I am curious as I love the islands and have been visiting since the early 80s. I cant afford to buy there but love to spend as much time as possible and so do many others. I hope the Hawaiian people are benefiting from the acquisition of so much land.


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