Rubbing shoulders with the world's most wealthy people

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 28 May, 1995, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 28 May, 1995, 12:00am

SOME of the most famous names in the world have their own private island.

Although Canada is the richest source of private islands, most of the world's rich and famous prefer to head for warmer climes, according to Pedro Arez, director of agents Vladi Private Islands.

For example, in the Caribbean, Hong Kong's super-elite can share the tide with the likes of Princess Diana, who sometimes relaxes on Richard Branson's Necker Island hideaway in the British Virgin Islands.

Bell Island in the Bahamas is owned by the Rothschild family. The Pacific is another favourite for buyers of private islands. Actor Marlon Brando owns an atoll in French Polynesia, while several other actors have their exclusive island hideaways in the South Pacific.

Mr Arez said most of the world's private coastal and river islands were located in north, central and south America.

In the US, the Rockerfeller family owns an island off the coast of Maine, and the Singer family, makers of the famous sewing machine, built a castle on their island on the St Lawrence River in New York state.

In Europe, a number of lagoon islands are available in Venice, where Dr Edward De Bono often holds seminars at his villa on Tessara Island.

The family of the late shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis owns Scorpius Island off the coast of Greece.

For those prospective island dwellers who are more interested in history than sun, there are a number of British islands available which come with heraldic titles.

But trying to find a private island for sale in Southeast Asia is like looking for a needle in a haystack.

Malaysia's federally administered tax haven Labuan is one of the few places where buying a private island is theoretically possible.

Thailand forbids foreign ownership of land, while in Indonesia all land is owned by the state. In the Philippines, foreigners must form a negative 60-40 joint partnership company with a Filipino to buy an island.