Larry Ellison, the self-made billionaire and CEO of Oracle Corporation has reached a deal to buy 98% of the island of Lana’i in Hawaii. At a reported $500-600 million, some are calling it the most expensive island purchase of all time. He’s buying it from the company of another self-made billionaire, David Murdock who’s Castle & Cooke owned the island since the days when it was the Dole pineapple plantation. Dole Food Company, Inc., is now the world's largest producer and marketer of high-quality fresh fruit and fresh vegetables.
Lana’i was first discovered by Kaululaa, the son of a Maui chief. A missionary’s grandson, Harry Baldwin, purchased Lanai in 1917 for $588,000. Five years later he sold Lana’i to James Dole for $1.1 million. Dole planted 18,000 acres of pineapple—a fruit not well known outside of Hawaii. Soon, canned pineapple from Lanai, accounted for 75 percent of the world’s pineapple. In the late 1980s, Dole Pineapple merged with the Castle & Cooke Company, run by David Murdock. The primary business of Lanai is now tourism—with travellers staying at the two luxury resorts developed there by Murdock—The Four Seasons at Lanai Manele Bay and the Lodge at Koele.
David Murdock is said to be keeping his home on Lana’i and the right to build a wind farm, a controversial project that would place windmills on as many as 20 square miles of the island and deliver power to Oahu through an undersea cable.
The 89-year old Murdock said in a statement that selling Lana’i was not an impulsive decision, but he has been looking for a buyer who would have the right enthusiasm, commitment and respect for the island's residents.
"I have learned in life that change is inevitable and can be quite positive when guided in the right direction," Murdock said.