Tech billionaire Larry Ellison’s purchase of a Hawaiian island has made life so expensive at the tropical paradise that families who lived there for generations have been forced to leave, according to a report.
Ellison, the 77-year-old CEO of Oracle whose net worth has been pegged at $94.5 billion by Forbes, bought 98% of Lanai, a secluded island in Maui County, 10 years ago.
He paid $300 million for the island’s 90,000 acres, which include two Four Seasons resorts that provide most of the jobs, homes, and commercial properties for the approximately 3,000 local residents.
The Bronx-born Ellison, who built Oracle into a $200 billion behemoth, developed the area to the point where small business owners and other working-class residents have been priced out, according to Bloomberg.
Shortly after buying the island, he built a Nobu, the high-end Japanese restaurant where dinner for two could easily exceed $1,000.
Chris Andrus, who helped his friend Peter Franklin start up a business called Lanai Woodworkers, told Bloomberg that the company helped in building the restaurant.
But Ellison also bought the building where Lanai Woodworkers rented space. Ellison’s representatives told Franklin that he would either have to clear our or sell the business to the tech mogul, according to Bloomberg.
Franklin sold the business to Ellison, who promised him a job. But Andrus was out of luck. At age 64, he was unemployed, so he decided to get a job delivering newspapers.
But the hotels that Ellison bought canceled their newspaper subscriptions—which cut Andrus’ business in half, according to Bloomberg.
Instead, the hotels started using iPads for their guests and they didn’t need hard copies of newspapers delivered to their rooms anymore.
After business dried up, Andrus said he fell behind on his utility bills. In January, Ellison’s holding company, Pulama Lanai, terminated his rental agreement.
Andrus is now relying on aid from Catholic Charities to help him pay rent at his home.
According to Bloomberg, Ellison owns all of the real estate on the island. If a resident is fired from a job at any of his companies, tenants can be kicked out of their homes on short notice.
Small businesses who rent space from Ellison are also forced to agree to 30-day leases, whereas before they were allowed to sign up for five-year terms.
Ellison has also invested serious sums of money in renovating facilities and infrastructure on the island — which has in turn attracted wealthier residents.
That means those who have lived there for generations, who earn a median income of $59,000, simply cannot afford the skyrocketing home prices.
Last week, just one property—a beachfront estate—was listed for sale. The asking price was $7.9 million.
Not all island residents are critical of Ellison. Gail Allen, the owner of a small gift shop who manages rental properties for Ellison’s visiting employees, told Bloomberg: “He’s amazing.”
“Don’t bite the hand that feeds you, please.”
The Post has reached out to Oracle seeking comment.