The isolated splendor of the superrich

Rich people tend to live behind high walls with guarded gates. Then there are the über-rich. They don't need walls and gates, for they isolate themselves from us riff-raff the natural way – by buying their very own private islands.

Rich people tend to live behind high walls with guarded gates. Then there are the über-rich. They don’t need walls and gates, for they isolate themselves from us riff-raff the natural way – by buying their very own private islands.

But holding the masses at bay is not the real reason that the swells lay out up to $30 million for these watery enclaves. Rather, says one luxury real estate expert, “It’s the ultimate ‘I’ve arrived’ statement.” Yes, but I would add that it’s also a way for an overachieving super-richie to shout to other richies: “See, mine’s bigger than yours!”

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These days, there’s been a surge in sales of private islands, thanks to the convergence of two economic forces. First came rising inequality, with the privileged few at the top taking ever more of the world’s wealth. Second, according to a luxury property firm with the perfect name of Candy & Candy, prices for quality islands fell during the global financial collapse. Thus a $50-million, 43-acre island in the Lesser Antilles – with a plantation house, two cottages, a protected bay for your yacht, and a landing pad for your helicopter – can now be had for only half that.

Before you grab your checkbook to purchase such a bargain, however, note that the price tag is hardly the total tab – annual upkeep on your paradise can easily run $300,000. All that for a getaway you might only get away to for a few weeks a year. Yet, with the income gap continuing to widen into a chasm, the number of those with the money to splurge on such ego-boosting baubles is expected to grow from 200,000 to about 250,000 in the next two years.

Instead of frittering away so much on so few, what say we find one isolated tropical island, build a big fence around it, and make all of those narcissistic egos live there in isolated splendor with each other?

“The Draw of a Spit of Land Surrounded by Blue,” The New York Times, February 10, 2015.

“Battling the bastards is about as much fun as you can have with your clothes on.”

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