There's nothing like owning an island to tell the world you've made it - that you are, in fact, wildly successful. Owning an island used to be more mysterious and less publicised than it is nowadays. Billionaires have always been secretly running off and buying remote pieces of property for their own delights, but then Hollywood got on the bandwagon and now almost every star owns a private getaway somewhere. Tom Hanks, Leonardo DiCaprio and Johnny Depp are just a few well known island owners, and although they didn't make the list of richest islands, they sure make owning an island look cool, and have contributed to the popularity of the island as a status symbol.
We might all dream about what we'd do with our very own private annex; would we open it up to world, make it a party spot, or keep it a well-preserved secret tucked away from the world? Have a look at what these 10 wealthy people did with theirs; we've ranked them by the huge costs of their islands, which typically correlates with huge net worths.
10 Mel Gibson $15 million Mago Island
Like most Hollywood stars, Mel Gibson is earning huge money. As an American actor he first proved his acting skills in the movie 'Tim' as a mentally challenged man involved with an older woman. This was way back in 1979 and since, Gibson has appeared in a plethora of films, including Braveheart for which he won an Oscar for best director. And so, for all the years of entertainment he has bestowed upon the world it seems fair that the actor gets to buy an island if he wants to - and he's not the only actor on the list either. This seems to be a trend within the Hollywood community.
Gibson does good with his money too, though; he's a well-known philanthropist, and has donated millions to charities. This island-owning philanthropist sure does have a lot going for him. Some might say he peaked somewhere in the 80’s or 90’s, right around the time he was named People’s first Sexiest Man Alive. But he still has a lot to look forward too, including vacationing on his 5400-acre private island. He purchased Mago Island from a Japanese company in 2005, and it remains pretty deserted while Gibson isn’t around, minus a few caretakers. Gibson’s private paradise is known to be the largest island in the Pacific.
9 Eddie Murphy $15 million Rooster Cay
This stand up comedian, TV personality, and director has blessed us with his genius for far too long not to have his own island... At the very least. Murphy grew up on an island. Well, Long Island that is. He comes from a fairly humble background. His father was a New York City police officer. Maybe that’s why he played a cop so well in one of the seminal cop comedies, 'Beverly Hills Cop'! Now, Murphy is known to be one of the highest paid stars around. He purchased Roy Cay in 2007 and the island's prime location and proximity to the city of Nassau in the Bahamas makes it well worth the $15 million he paid for it. The island itself is still much of a mystery to the public, but its neighboring island, Paradise, is not. Paradise is a popular vacation spot - perhaps Rooster Cay one day will be too. This isn't Murphy’s first island purchase, so the man probably has a good idea of what to do with it, and whether he develops his or keeps it purely for his own enjoyment, it’s a fine status symbol nonetheless.
8 Shakira $16.5 million Bonds Cay
Singer, songwriter Shakira has joined the island owners club. We suppose if one of the greatest pop stars of all time didn’t have herself an island, there would most definitely be something wrong with the world. Not only is Shakira an extremely talented singer, but being the only woman on this list makes her a pretty exclusive member of the club. Although Pink Floyd frontman, Roger Waters, has helped Shakira drum up the $16.5 million for this 700 acre island, credit goes to the little lady here as she is the principal investor. The island is only 125 miles off the coast of Florida, in an area known as the Berry Islands, north central Bahamas. This isn’t a small little speck of an island either, this island holds five major beaches, and three salt pond lakes. Not only does Shakira intend to reinvent the concept of tourism with a grandiose resort project, but there are plans to develop and sell prime seaside property on the island. It doesn’t seem like it’ll be a hard sell either, with coral reefs, rich fishing areas, and mesmerizing views, this place holds other worldly beauty. Wishing you had become a pop star yet?
7 Craig McCaw $19 million James Island
The Wireless Wizard of Oz, Craig O. McCaw, has bought himself an island. Even the man who connects the world (via Telecom and communications) understands the value of peace and quiet every once and a while. Makes you wonder if when he goes to his island if he takes his cell phone with him or not... James Island stretches out over 342-hectares. Purchased in 1994, Mccaw only recently got permission to develop real estate. However, Mccaw plans to have a strict environmental regime that will protect the existing natural value. All power lines run underground and only golf carts and electric cars are used for transportation. Protecting the environment this way definitely doesn't come cheap: The wireless pioneer has had to dig deep into his pockets to uphold the natural integrity of the island. However, since reinventing the island, McCaw has put it on the market for $75 billion - quite a bit more than he sold it for...
6 Bill Gates $25 million Grand Bugue Caye
Of course Bill Gates has his own island. As the founder of the largest software company in the world, Microsoft, Gates is able to do a lot of things that most people can only dream of. Not only does Gates own an island, but he owns the biggest island in the area. The Grand Bugue Caye is the largest island in the republic of Belize, totaling 314-acres. It has stunning beaches, superb variety of marine life, consisting of colorful tunicates, starfish and dolphins. The water sparkles and changes colors, from rich deep blues to pale greens. Microsoft has always had a reputation for being synonymous with quality...
5 Bernard Arnault $35 million Indigo Island
Bernard Arnault is the CEO of Luis Vuitton Moet Hennessy (LVMH). This means, of coursed, he is a billionaire. And billionaires own islands. Actually, Arnault is not just a any billionaire, he's the richest person in Europe and among the five richest in the world. His total personal wealth exceeds $40 billion. So yes, he owns an island, a private oasis in the Bahamas. It is a 133-acre estate and contains a small marina, many tennis courts, pristine beaches and a number of hilltop villas. The island s a reflection of his impeccable, and classy taste. He likes luxury and things like cognac and vintage wine.
4 Mikhail Prokhorov $35 million North Island
According to Forbes Mikhail Prokhorov is the 32nd richest person in the world. The owner of New Jersey Nets and the Chairman of Polyus Gold has been referred to as “the most eligible bachelor in the world” and “the most handsome billionaire” and some have even called him “the face of new Russia.” One brief encounter with this 6ft 8in tall elegant man and all these high accolades make perfect sense. He is handsome, he is rich, and he must be smart to have amassed the wealth he has. As a self made billionaire Prokhorov demands attention and respect. He's built himself up to island status, and that’s when you really know you have money. However, Prokhorov iconically said once, “If you know how rich you are, you are not a billionaire.”
3 David Copperfield $150 million Musha Cay Island
David Copperfield is a great entertainer, even the magician of the millennium. He is one of the most commercially successful magicians but who need he owned a $150 million island? Apparently id you can make the Statue of Liberty vanish and walk through the Great Wall of China you can procure a pricey island under your name. To date, Copperfield is the tenth highest paid celebrities in the world, which makes him undoubtedly one of the wealthiest men in the U.S. This, in a way, explains why he dropped so much on an island. Musha Cay didn’t just cost a pretty penny, it looks that way too. The island resort is the essence of opulence, and attracts the worlds biggest luxury lushes. Think Tom Cruise, Penelope Cruz and John Travolta. Musha Cay has come to be regarded as the world’s most luxurious and exclusive private retreats. It’s hard to top 150-acres of pristine white sand beaches, unspoiled natural environment, and shockingly beautiful turquoise water. It’s a truly a magical place to be.
2 Richard Branson $200 million Necker Island
Sir Richard Branson, owner of Virgin Group, made his fortune at the very young age of 25. He started out as an entrepreneur when he was 16. He was born into a middle-class family. Growing up his family had to be very conscious of their spending, and although Branson has no reason to be so now, he is still quite frugal approach to spending...relatively speaking. Necker Island was originally purchased for $200 million. No, Branson spent a mere 180,000 pounds on it back in 1978. Over the span of three years and with nearly $10 million in capital he turned the previously uninhabited island into a haven of luxury. Necker Island has become well known for privacy fanatics. The late Princess Diana use to vacation there with her children quite often. Other big names like Kate Moss, Miranda Kerr, and Oprah Winfrey have visited the island, and that’s just to name a few. In 2010, Victoria’s Secret descended on the island for its swimsuit shoot. With its lush greenery, turquoise water, and magnificent beaches, this 74-acre Caribbean islands ambience is hard to top.
1 Roman Abramovich $400 million New Holland Island
Roman Abramovich is most known for being the owner of Millhouse LLC, and Chelsea Football Club. What he has built for himself is a little like a modern-day Roman empire. For not only does he own the football club, but he owns real estate all over the world: including Russia, France, and Britain. Abramovich knows how to live. His ostentatious lifestyle reveals his love for the finer things in life. He is a collector of almost everything expensive, from cars to fine art. Petersburg's New Holland island, with its necessarily more urban than exotic feel, is not his only island and it's just as well, as he's developing it into a cultural and commercial centre. Luckily for him, he owns multiples of everything: private jets, submarines, super yachts. Abramovich is most definitely a pack leader, owning the fastest cars, the biggest boats, and the most expensive islands.