Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan have almost doubled the size of their estate in Hawaii, purchasing a neighboring 600 acre plot for $53 million in a move likely to further enrage his island critics.
The Facebook founder, who began buying up chunks of the island in September 2014, added the additional land on March 19, according to Pacific Business News.
Kauai is the fourth largest of Hawaii’s eight main islands, and home to 67,000 people.
Zuckerberg, 36, and his wife expanded their Hawaii estate in March
The pair already own the land above Pilaa Beach, on the north shore of Kauai
The family bought the Kahu’aina Plantation first, then the Pila’a Beach plot, and now a new area
The north shore land, which includes the spectacular Larsen’s Beach, was bought from a nonprofit organization established by a local family, whose roots, the paper reported, go back to the days of the Hawaiian kingdom.
Abner and Lucy Wilcox, a missionary couple, arrived from Connecticut in 1837 – when Hawaii was still a monarchy.
The monarchy would remain in power until January 1895, and the territory was then annexed by the U.S.
The Wilcoxes ran a school, which would pass down through the generations.
In 1975 the Waioli Corporation took over the management of the land, and the trustees sold part of their property to the Zuckerberg-Chan family.
Waioli operates federal and state historic places across the island, including Waioli Mission House Museum and the Mahamoku Beach Residence in Hanalei, and Grove Farm Museum in Lihu‘e, as well as plantation-era steam locomotives in its collection.
The couple said in a statement that they plan to continue the work that the Waioli Corporation has done to conserve the land known as Lepeuli, which is home to pristine reefs and forests, providing habitat for native birds and plants.
The Facebook founder has vowed to preserve the pristine island landscape
Zuckerberg and Chan with their daughter Max, in a photo posted on December 11, 2020
Mindful of previous criticism, they will also keep the lease with the current tenant, Paradise Ranch.
‘Waioli does essential work promoting conservation and cultural preservation and we are mindful of their legacy with regard to this land,’ Chan and Zuckerberg said.
‘We are committed to honoring the current ranching lease to Paradise Ranch and extending the existing agricultural dedication.
‘We have been working closely with a number of community partners to promote conservation, produce sustainable agriculture and protect native wildlife at our ranch and in the surrounding areas and look forward to extending that effort to Lepeuli in the months ahead.’
Zuckerberg and Chan, worth an estimated $117 billion according to Forbes, have faced resistance to their spending spree in the past.
The California-based couple bought their first 357-acre chunk of the island in September 2014, purchasing the Kahuaina Plantation from California investment firm Falko Partners.
The couple, who also own properties in San Francisco, Palo Alto and Lake Tahoe, then bought 384 acres from the late Hawaii auto dealer James Pflueger.
In 2018 they bought yet more, meaning their landholdings total nearly 750 acres, according to local media.
His entities also acquired titles to dozens of smaller lots within the larger parcels that were known as ‘Kuleana Lands’ – land granted to Kanaka Maoli tenant farmers between 1850 and 1855.
Zuckerberg was accused by some of trying to force the tenant farmers from their historic plots, and in 2017 he apologized in the local newspaper, explaining that he was abandoning his quiet title actions and would ‘work together with the community on a new approach’.
A petition was begun last year to ‘stop Mark Zuckerberg from colonizing Kauai’, and now has more than a million signatures.
The nonprofit, however, said they were delighted with the latest sale to their multibillionaire neighbor.
‘The decision provides Waioli with the financial ability to be able to continue our critical conservation and historical work and ensure that Kauai’s cultural history continues to be shared in the community for years to come,’ said Sam Pratt, president of Waipoli Corporation, in a statement.
He said the organization chose Chan and Zuckerberg after seeing their ‘dedication over the years to land conservation, protecting native species and working to preserve the natural beauty of Kauai.’
‘We know that this land will remain in their trusted hands and that Mark and Priscilla will act as responsible stewards of Lepeuli today and in the future,’ he said.