When you think about your dream life, what does it look like? There's a good chance it involves lazing your days away on the beach -- on your own private island perhaps -- complete with a mansion, staff and, oh, not a care in the world.
For the mega-wealthy, owning an island is the ultimate status symbol. Lucky for them, they often have the private jet to make getting there a breeze.
From CEOs to movie stars to titans of business, private island ownership spans industries. The only requirement: Lots and lots of money. Just ask Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, the ruling emir of Qatar who this week became the latest to join the exclusive club.
|Emir of Qatar|
The emir of Qatar, Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, decided to purchase not one, not two, but six Greek islands in the Ionian Sea. The price? A fairly reasonable 8.5 million euro, or about $11 million in U.S. dollars.
According to The Guardian, the islands have been on the market for nearly 40 years. Still, the deal took some time to close. The emir reportedly first spotted the islands four years ago and spent the last 18 months working on paperwork to finalize the deal.
The uninhabited islands are said to have "pristine beaches, ancient olive orchards and natural coves."
There's no running water on the island yet, but that won't keep the Emir away. The paper reported he would moor his yacht off the new property this summer. Down the line, he may build palaces for his three wives and 24 children.
The CEO of Oracle Corp. has reached a deal to buy 98 percent of the island of Lana'i, Hawaii. The asking price was between $500 million and $600 million, and Ellison plans to pay cash, the Associated Press reported.
The deal includes 88,000 acres of land, plus two resorts, two golf courses and a stable. The two resorts are the Four Seasons Lana'i at Manele Bay, located on the ocean, and the Four Seasons Lana'i at Koele, located in the island's valley.
Lana'i is known as the "pineapple island" because much of it was once owned by James Dole of Dole Food Co. Inc.
Oscar-winner Johnny Depp's island — Little Hall's Pond Cay — is located in the Bahamas and has no fewer than six beaches, all with different names. One is "Gonzo," a tribute to Hunter S. Thompson, the iconoclastic Rolling Stone magazine journalist, said Carlos Greer, People magazine reporter.
"Depp purchased the island because he was looking for privacy," said Greer. "The island is completely isolated and he enjoys snorkeling there. It's his haven to escape to as a space for instant freedom, especially because someone like Johnny Depp can be reclusive."
Greek shipping tycoon Aristotle Onassis, husband to legendary fashionista and former first lady Jacqueline Kennedy, was among the first millionaires to invest in a private island with his purchase of Skorpios, located in the Ionian Sea.
The privileged retreat was reportedly for sale a few years ago, attracting interest from potential buyers such as Bill Gates, Madonna and Giorgio Armani, said Greer. The estate ultimately was bequeathed to his granddaughter, Athina Onassis, the sole heir to the Onassis empire.
Mel Gibson reportedly purchased his tropical island in Fiji for $15 million in 2005. The island is one of the largest privately owned islands in the South Pacific, approximately 5,400 acres.
Although it's not known how much time the actor spends on the island, Fiji is well known for its luscious flora, wonderful weather and serene ambience.
Virgin Empire mogul Richard Branson purchased his private island residence in the British Virgin Islands in 1978 as an investment of a few hundred thousand dollars.
Now lively parties held in the compound's "Great House" are attended by Hollywood's most prominent celebrities and Europe's royals, although anyone can stay at the ultra-exclusive resort if they can afford the nearly $50,000 a night price tag. Necker Island recently made headlines when actress Kate Winslet saved Bransons' mother Eve from a house fire that unxpectedly struck the resort in the middle of the night.
David Copperfield's Musha Cay is part of an archipelago that stretches out for more than 100 miles near the sunny Bahamas.
Copperfield, who hosted Google founder Sergey Brin's wedding at the island estate in 2007, isn't the only celebrity who calls the area home. Nearby islands are owned by actor Nicholas Cage and comedian Eddie Murphy.
Media mogul and CNN founder Ted Turner purchased St. Phillips Island, off the South Carolina coast, in 1979, according to the Los Angeles Times.
As a prominent land owner and businessman, Turner has found a second career as a philanthropist and has given away billions to charities, most recently as part of Warren Buffet's "The Giving Pledge" last year. Of giving, the entrepreneur told ABC News, "Everybody who's rich has considered it. It's just a question of whether they do it or not because it's so much easier not to do it."