A 157-acre private island off the southwest coast of Ireland has sold for 5.5 million euros ($6.3 million), despite the buyer never having actually visited.
Horse Island was sold to an anonymous ultra-high-net-worth European buyer in July, following months of negotiations during the coronavirus lockdown, according to London-based Montague Real Estate, which facilitated the deal. The broker had been asked to find an island for the buyer in December 2019.
Located off the coast of Schull in West Cork, the island has three sandy beaches, and is home to seals and other wildlife. Its new owner has never actually visited the island, and purchased it after only a video tour.
There are currently seven properties on the island, including a six-bedroom 4,500-square-foot main house, two three-bedroom guest houses, a couple of two-bedroom homes and two one-bedroom cottages.
Horse Island also has a private pier, a helipad, a games and gym house, tennis court and "shipwreck play house." The island has its own electricity, water and sewage systems, as well as its own private roads enabling access to the entire land.
Between 1820 and 1874, Horse Island was home to a "thriving copper industry," with a population peak of 137 people in 1841. Most of its residents worked in its mines.
All of its inhabitants had left by 1965 but some of the ruins of the old village can still be found on the island.
German fitness expert Gert Kolbel bought and renovated the island in the 1980s.
The most recent owners, who reportedly bought it in 2007 and put it back on the market in 2018, knocked its price down in February from 6.75 million euros to 5.5 million euros, which was when negotiations with the buyer began. As the country's coronavirus lockdown restricted meetings and travel, negotiations were mainly handled over WhatsApp.
Indeed, Montague Real Estate CEO Thomas Balashev said sourcing the land and finalizing the sale during the pandemic had been a "challenge."
Alex Robinson, a senior negotiator for the private office of estate agents Knight Frank, who brokered the deal, said it highlighted "a trend that is becoming more apparent as the impact of Covid-19 is felt and people look to purchase property or land in remote locations."