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Larry Ellison says he wants to turn Lanai into a little utopian society. The billionaire shares some of his most revealing plans since purchasing the island in a new book, The Billionaire and the Mechanic.
The publisher says Ellison gave the book’s author unparalleled access and the billionaire speaks candidly about his vision for the island.
Ellison purchased 98 percent of Lanai from David Murdock for $300 million. It was a dream he had for decades. He is quoted in the recently published book saying, “I fantasized about this island since I was in my twenties. I piloted my own plane over the pineapple plantations, which you can almost smell.”
That was then. Decades later, his dream came true. But not until many years later.
“I looked up how much it was worth. But I had no money, So I had to wait,” Ellison said.
Ellison describes the island as his utopia — the perfect place and an artists’ colony.
“First of all, I don’t believe utopia is a place. I think that’s an impossibility. Utopia is a dream, it’s a universal peace, it’s a whole lot of things, but it’s not a place,” philosopher and teacher Keith Haugen said.
Ellison has plans to convert Lanai into a self-reliant community — exporting fresh fruits and vegetables, establishing wind farms, and making Lanai electric-car friendly.
“I think if Ellison is thinking that Lanai is his utopia, I think he’s missing the boat because I think there’s going to be a lot of problems that are going to come up that he’s not aware of. And he’s going to find out it’s not all a bed of roses,” Haugen said.
Ellison’s plans for Lanai are grand in scope. But his utopia may not be everyone’s idea of a perfect world.
“There are going to be people on that island who don’t like him, who don’t like the idea that he bought the island or who don’t like the idea that he’s considering it his personal utopia. And he’s bound to find that as life goes on,” Haugen said.
Along with buying the island, Ellison also owns much of the infrastructure on Lanai.
Also, his purchase of Lanai brought with it the two Four Seasons Resorts on the island.
Ellison also took over Manele Water Resources, Lanai Transportation Company, and Lanai Water Company. He is also working on a seawater desalination plant.
One thing is certain. The world will be watching as Ellison creates what he calls his utopia.