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Billionaire Islands: Craig McCaw's James Island

National Land

Let's say you want your own island and you want it to have qualities you can really brag about to your friends. Well, this beauty might still be on the market if you're willing to pay a pretty penny.

James Island is owned by billionaire and cellphone pioneer Craig McCaw, it has a boss golf course, it's guarded by a ferocious canine, AND it has a little mock town straight out of the Old West. How's that for bragging rights?

McCaw listed James Island for $78M in 2012, and there was apparently a bidding war for it in 2013. (It's valued at $51.6M BC Assessment.) The last we heard, the island was still on the market for $75M in fall 2014.

The Specs:

James Island is a 780-acre private island about a mile away from Vancouver. It has a four-bedroom, 5k SF main residence, an entertainment center converted from an old warehouse, a gym, a pool, a spa, a store, an airstrip, a marina and six guest cottages.

There's also an 18-hole Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course, hiking trails and bike paths. And as if being surrounded by nature's moat isn't enough, the island is guarded by an island keeper in a white Hummer with a German Shepherd trained to sniff out intruders. (Supposedly that Hummer has been traded in for something more energy efficient in recent years.)

BC (Before Craig):

James Island has had a number of past lives. It was initially home to the Tsawout First Nation, but they were removed from the island in the 1900s to make way for a dynamite plant during WWI and WWII.

In the '80s new owners tried to develop the island into a high-end resort (that's where the golf course came from). Then McCaw purchased it for either $19M or $26M in 1994. It's said he likes to keep the island very green, banning insecticides and using underground power lines and electric cars.

Land Disputes:

McCaw sued the former property owners for $5.3M, the cost of cleaning up environmental damage done to the island while the munitions factory was operating. Island staff members say that when McCaw purchased the property, it was filled with contaminated soil and emaciated deer.

The BC Supreme Court awarded McCaw's J.I. Properties $4.75M. Additionally, the Tsawout community believes the land should be given back to them. They say they were told the island, which holds a sacred unmarked cemetery, would be returned to them once the munitions factory was removed.

McCaw's Net Worth:

$1.9B according to Forbes. That number was reportedly as high as $7.7B before the dot-com bubble burst.

Random Fun Fact:

McCaw bought a $35M classic Ferrari in 2012.

Related Topics: Craig McCaw, James Island