Inside Wealth: Real Estate

Spare $55 million? Consider buying this Bahamas island

Innocence Island is the largest privately held island in the Bahamas.
Concierge Auctions

Wealthy sunseekers looking for a holiday home with a difference will head to New York next month for the auction of the Bahamas' largest private island.

The 681-acre Innocence Island, features fruit trees, tropical foliage and six white sandy beaches, and was originally offered for $55 million in 2009. It comes with a 3,000-square-foot main house set 90 feet above sea level, with six bedrooms and six bathrooms, as well as a second residence with a gym and meditation deck.

The 3000 square ft main house on Innocence Island, Bahamas
Concierge Auctions

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The owner has become ill and has chosen to sell the island at auction – unusually for a non-distressed luxury property -- as a means to monetize it quickly and efficiently.

"Unlike the traditional sales model, the auction model allows him to sell Innocence Island on his own timeline," said Laura Brady, the founder of Concierge Auctions, a New York-based luxury real estate auction firm charged with selling the island.

The auction will take place on May 15 at the five-star Trump SoHo hotel in Manhattan. The property will sell to the highest bidder, at or above a $10 million reserve.

Once sold at auction, Brady said the entire process will take about 60 days from start to finish.

Admiring the view on Innocence Island, in the Bahamas
Concierge Auctions

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Innocence is located in the Bahamas' Exuma chain of islands, home to the likes of actor Johnny Depp, magician David Copperfield and country music icon Tim McGraw. Exuma is the only part of the Bahamas where private islands regularly go on sale.

"The Exuma islands offer privacy, seclusion and the most beautiful scenery the Bahamas has to offer," said George Damianos of Damianos Sotheby's International Realty, with which Concierge Auctions is working on the sale of the island.

"Still, when we say that Innocence Island is 'one-of-a-kind', we mean quite literally that its size and splendor are unmatched."

Innocence Island, Bahamas covers 681 acres.
Concierge Auctions

One unusual feature is its 2,500-foot airstrip, which is one of the only in the Bahamas with its own pilot code.

"Every time I descend upon Innocence Island, I relish hearing the pilot announce our approach by calling out the island's airport code, MYEY. I sit back, smile and await the privacy and relaxation to come," said its current owner in a news release.

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The island, which has had only had four owners in its whole history, features 15 miles of nature trails as well as opportunities for fishing, kayaking and paddle boarding.

Not for you? Below are more Bahamas islands on sale:

  • High Cay—$2.8 million—31 acres
  • Leaf Cay—$8.5 million—30 acres
  • Big Grand Cay—$11.5 million—213 acres
  • Bird Cay—$11.9 million—250 acres
  • Lighthouse Cay—$33.3 million—765 acres
  • Darby Island—$40 million—554 acres

Concierge Auctions typically sells properties for between $2.5 million and $20 million. A 600-acre in the Exuma Cay recently sold for $50,000 per acre, or $30 million. A smaller 167-acre island went for $143,000 per acre, or $23.9 million.

Another ultra-high-end Caribbean property that came to market this year was Four Winds in Barbados. Real estate agency Savills listed the 2.56-acre property in March for $55 million, making it the most expensive house ever on the Barbados open market.

Four Winds, Barbados - guide price $55 million

However, the Caribbean has been hit hard by the financial crisis, with luxury property prices on some islands down by 30 percent since 2007, according to international real estate agency Knight Frank.

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Sales volumes are now increasing, boosted by a renewed confidence in the global economy. In particular, new developments, such as the Albany luxury resort in the Bahamas, are back on the radar of international buyers.

"At the end of the day, buying in the Caribbean is a discretionary purchase—your other choices might be a ski chalet in the Alps or maybe a city pied-a-terre… they are looking to buy, and now people see value in the Caribbean," James Burdess, a director at real estate agency Savills, told CNBC.

Correction: The captions on the first four photographs have been updated to reflect that the island is called Innocence Island.