Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg recently invested $100 million for a 700 acre site on the island of Kauai. While it is two years since the property was acquired it seems that Zuckerberg is pursuing legal action against the owners of small plots within his 700 acre property. This is a somewhat bizarre scenario when you bear in mind that he has already invested $100 million only to find that small plots of “his” land are actually owned by others. So, what options are open to Mark Zuckerberg and how will this go down with the local community?
Quiet title lawsuits
A number of companies owned by the Facebook founder have issued an array of quiet title lawsuits which were actually placed in front of the courts on 30 December 2016. In effect, if successful, they will force the current owners of the small plots to put them up for sale to the highest bidder at a public auction. When you bear in mind the billions of dollars Mark Zuckerberg has at his disposal we can only guess who will be the highest bidder when the auctions begin!
It is believed that the acquisition of the small plots of land would take away rights of way and allow Zuckerberg to build a secluded beachfront development on the island’s north shore. If this is a price for privacy then it could be a significant price to pay.
Ownership of smaller plots
While those in the Western world will perhaps look on this article with doubt and a small degree of amusement, this issue goes back hundreds of years. Even though some of the plots in question are tiny, the owners are entitled to walk across Mark Zuckerberg’s land to get to their own plots. We can only imagine the issues this would cause for the flamboyant Facebook CEO who would appear to have acquired the property to escape from the hustle and bustle of business life.
In another bizarre twist to the story, many of those who own the small plots may actually be unaware and could be in arrears for property taxes. From the outside looking in it does look as though Mark Zuckerberg is flexing his financial muscles but in reality he’s just tidying up what has become a mess. Indeed there are already signs that some parties fully intend to take up offers which should eventually emerge from Mark Zuckerberg at auction.
With his multibillion dollar fortune Mark Zuckerberg should be able to give the small plot owners a fair price for their land. When you bear in mind he has already spent $100 million for the main 700 acre site what is a few more dollars to tidy up the situation. There is no indication what level of compensation the small plot owners can expect but, under local laws, they need to respond quickly else they will be shut out of negotiations and be forced to accept the will of the majority.
It seems that secluded island properties are the norm for multimillionaire business people although as this situation confirms, just 8 acres out of 700 acres are causing a significant headache for Mark Zuckerberg. Was he aware of the local situation before he acquired the land? As with all of Mark Zuckerberg’s business dealings, there is little in the way of detail emerging from his camp.