Lives cheaply in Greece

Greece : It's that easy to get to a Greek island

Your own island? It's not cheap - but maybe cheap right now. In Greece, for example. Dozens of Greek islands are for sale. There were rumors that the US star investor Warren Buffet, together with an Italian partner, should have bought the island of Agios Thomas (St. Thomas) in the Saronic Gulf off Athens for 15 million euros. Buffett has since denied that.

Private islands have always been a preferred status symbol for Greek tycoons. In the mid-1950s, the shipowner Stavros Niarchos bought the almost two square kilometers large island of Spetsopoula in the Saronic Gulf. In 1963, his rival, the “tanker king” Aristotle Onassis, acquired the island of Skorpios in the Ionian Sea for a mere 110,000 dollars.

The shepherd on Atokos is not included in the price

Greek islands are not that cheap anymore. One of the cheapest offers is Lihnari east of Corinth. The 38 hectare area is expected to cost three million euros. You only get a peninsula for this, but with 650 olive trees and a spring - a bargain because the seller has just cut the price in half. The island broker Private Islands Online is also offering the islet of Gaia in the Ionian Sea for three million.

At the upper end of the price range is the island of Omorfi ("The Beautiful"), also in the Ionian Sea and at least 4.5 square kilometers in size. The owner demands 50 million euros. Or Atokos, an island off Ithaca in the Ionian Sea, almost five square kilometers in size. Locals refer to the piece of land as the "paradise island": a nearly 350 meter high mountain, dramatic cliffs, pristine beaches. A chapel and an abandoned house are included in the purchase price of 45 million euros. The potential buyer, however, does not have to take over a local shepherd who still grazes his goats on the island - he and his animals could be relocated.

The islands could soon be available at bargain prices

The Greek state, which owns many of the 3,000 or so uninhabited islands in the Aegean and Ionian Seas, urgently needs money. According to the latest specification from international lenders, Greece is to take over 50 billion euros in privatizations over the next few years in order to pay off debts. A large part of the proceeds is attributable to the sale and leasing of state-owned properties. The Athens finance minister is under pressure. Experts therefore expect that Greek islands could soon be available at bargain prices.

Populist German politicians have long thought that Greece should now sell its islands, "and preferably also the Acropolis", as the "Bild" newspaper demanded. Now even Switzerland wants to help, although not a euro country: The Ticino National Councilor Pierre Rusconi suggests that Switzerland should buy Greek islands. The purchase price is to be offset against the debts that Athens apparently also has with the Confederates. This would also give Switzerland, which operates 46 ocean-going vessels, at last access to the sea, argues the politician.

Visitors have the right to go ashore on a private island

Nothing is as discreet with celebrity brokers as island deals worth millions. Some things seep through anyway. The actor Johnny Depp is said to have recently bought a Greek island. The celebrity couple Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie are also in purchase negotiations, according to the industry. However, private islands in Greece are not entirely private either. The country's laws state that all beaches must be open to the public. Visitors therefore have the right to go ashore on a private island and lie down on the beach.

The fact that Warren Buffett is striking in Greece is making many professional investors sit up and take notice. Because the “Oracle of Omaha”, as the 85-year-old is called after his place of birth and the seat of his investment empire Berkshire Hathaway, is said by his fans to have an unerring instinct for profitable business. With private wealth of around $ 73 billion, Buffett, who started trading stocks at the age of eleven, is the third richest person in the world.

Although: At first glance, Agios Thomas doesn't seem very attractive. 1.5 square kilometers of rock, overgrown with bushes, no trees, no water, no sandy beach, just rugged cliffs - not exactly a dream island. No wonder that nobody lives here so far - one of over 3000 uninhabited islets that belong to Greece. Even if Buffett doesn't want to have bought the island at all: At least he thinks Greece is a cheap investment place at the moment. There are "numerous good opportunities and many people are ready to invest," Buffett told the Greek news agency AMPE.

Other prominent investors are already there. The then Emir of Qatar bought six Greek islands three years ago. The Onassis island of Skorpios has also found a new owner. Microsoft founder Bill Gates and pop star Madonna were already interested in the island on which Onassis married Jacqueline Kennedy in 1968. Onassis, who died in 1975, is also buried on Skorpios, as is his daughter Christina, to whose heir the island belonged. After her death in 1988, Skorpios became the property of Athina Onassis.

But the billionaire heiress never showed much interest in the island. Aristotle Onassis had expressly forbidden a sale of Skorpios in his will. Earlier sales plans failed because of this. But his granddaughter evaded this order and two years ago signed a long-term lease agreement with the Russian oligarch Dmitrij Rybolovlev. The Russian acquired the island as a gift for his 24-year-old daughter Ekaterina. The price has been kept confidential - reportedly more than $ 100 million.

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