Murdock to keep house, rare orchids in island sale
David Murdock has sold his Hawaiian island, but he's keeping his seven-bedroom Lanai home, a woodworking shop containing koa furniture, two carved elephant tusks in a resort lobby, and 1,000 rare orchid plants.
The billionaire is holding on to those assets and others, while selling most of Lanai to Oracle Corp. CEO Larry Ellison.
It was already known that Murdock would be retaining rights to a controversial wind project, but a redacted version of the sale agreement was submitted to the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission this week, and it outlines what assets the two billionaires agreed that Murdock would retain.
Lawyers for Murdock's Castle & Cooke Inc. said redactions were necessary to protect business interests. The price Ellison paid for 98 percent of the island's 141 square miles has not been revealed, though the Maui News previously reported the asking price was $500 million to $600 million. Maui County records show the assessed value for all of Lanai's land is $635.4 million.
The latest filing is related to the utilities commission's ongoing review on permanent approval to transfer three utilities. Interim approval was granted in June, allowing the sale to proceed.
Murdock's seven-bedroom, seven-bathroom, 44,921-square-foot (13, 691.92-meter) private residence on Kipihaa Place has an assessed value of $6,192,000, according to Maui County property records. Some of the other assets he will keep include a lot across the street from the home, assorted apartments, two carved wood Balinese sculptures in a resort lobby and Richard's grocery store.
Richard's is one of three markets in town, and now the only employees who work for Murdock are those who work in Richard's, said Robin Kaye, spokesman for Friends of Lanai, which formed to oppose Murdock's wind farm that would deliver power to Oahu through an undersea cable.
"There are many people who won't shop in Richard's because it's Murdock's," he said Thursday. It's a small, yet crucial part of the island because it's a major source of food and sundries, he said.
Under Murdock's ownership, the lobbies of the two resorts were furnished like Asian art museums, Kaye said, but those pieces have recently been removed and some are hopeful they'll be replaced with decor that's more reflective of Hawaii.
"You're not going to come here because it's Maui or Waikiki, you're going to come here because it's Lanai," Kaye said. "We're hopeful it'll be sensitive to the beauty and Hawaiian-ness of the island. It's quite an aesthetic change."
Meanwhile, Ellison's senior-level employees have been in town every couple of days and have been talking with the community — a hopeful sign of what life will be like under Ellison's ownership, Kaye said.
A spokeswoman for Redwood City, California-based Oracle declined to comment Thursday.