Barbados, the wealthiest country in the Caribbean, has become a hot spot for the world's rich and famous thanks to its iconic beaches and large tourism service industry. It is also a tax haven for many, even earning the moniker "the Switzerland of the Caribbean." According to a 2014 report from the Atlanta Black Star, at least 18 billionaires own property on the island.
It is possible that dozens of the world's nearly 2,100 billionaires might own vacation property in Barbados, but very few actually make the small island nation their home. Most of the well-known natives, including international pop singer Rihanna, are millionaires several times over, but do not quite reach the billionaire threshold.
According to the 2015 Forbes list of the wealthiest individuals in the world, no billionaires live in Barbados on a full-time basis. One resident made the 2014 list, Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk, who has lived in Barbados since 1991.
Eugene Melnyk: Estimated $1 Billion Net Worth
Melnyk is not a native Barbadian but instead has joint Ukrainian and Canadian citizenship. He was born in the Ukraine in 1959 before emigrating to Canada, eventually founding the medical publishing firm Trimel Corp. In 1989, Melnyk sold Trimel to Thompson Publications and launched Biovail Corporation, which produced specialty pharmaceutical products.
As chairman and CEO of Biovail, Melnyk grew company revenue from a modest $14.6 million in 1995 to more than $770 million by 2006, which is more than $1 billion in 2015 dollars. Melnyk's business successes won him some fame in Canada, particularly his ability to reinvent drugs with expiring or expired patents.
After retiring from the Biovail board in 2007, Eugene Melnyk founded another company, Trimel Pharmaceuticals. The second Trimel specializes in drugs for male and female dysfunction and certain respiratory disorders.
Melnyk is best known for his 2003 purchase of the Ottawa Senators, a professional hockey team in the NHL. Melnyk bought the team, and its arena, Corel Centre, from bankruptcy proceedings. A huge sports fan, Melnyk has repeatedly stated he has no intentions of ever selling the team or giving up even partial ownership.
Billionaire Property Owners in Barbados
Barbados is not home to many billionaires, but it is a playground for many. The west coast of the island has been dubbed the "platinum coast" because its vacation property values are the highest in the entire Caribbean.
The most notorious property owner might be Hans Kristian Rausing, the billionaire legacy son of Swedish packaging titan Hans Rausing. Hans Kristian owns an 11-bedroom mansion on the west coast, where he spent many winters with wife Eva Rausing before her untimely death in July 2012. Their primary residence was in London. After Eva died, Hans Kristian was arrested on suspicion of drug charges and tampering with the body, casting a spotlight on the couple's nightlife habits in Barbados.
Another noteworthy property owner is billionaire Michael Tabor, who has seen as much as half of his wealth disappear since 2012. Tabor still owns a $35-plus million home in Barbados and one-third of the Sandy Lane Hotel. He lives in Monaco most of the time but also has property in the United Kingdom and does a lot of business in the United States.
The Sandy Lane Set; Barbados Billionaires
The Sandy Lane is one of the most luxurious hotel resorts in the world and is jointly owned by five men who, before the global financial recession between 2008 and 2010 took its toll, were counted among the world's billionaire class. These men included Michael Tabor; Derrick Smith, a resident of Barbados; John Magnier; J.P. McManus; and Dermot Desmond.
These five investors purchased the Sandy Lane from Granada plc in 1999, eventually achieving status among the Leading Hotels of the World (LHW) in 2009. All five men originally hail from Ireland, but only Tabor and Smith spend significant parts of the year in Barbados.