Larry Ellison, the man who co-founded Oracle (the second-largest software company in the world, one whose name you may notice on a handful of local stadiums, boat races, and such) is arguably the closest thing the Bay Area has to a Rockefeller. In May, Forbes listed him as the third wealthiest human in America and the fifth-wealthiest human in the world, with an estimated net worth of $54.3 billion to his name.
What does he do with all that money? Well, he's given some of it to Harvard, donated to hospitals, and helped fund the Israel Defense Forces. He also owns several airplanes, including multiple military aircraft, and a handful of the world's largest yachts. He's been called the world's most avid trophy-home buyer (we tried counting how many houses he actually has for the purposes of this post, but quickly grew tired and gave up. It's more than 40. One is a villa in Japan).
What we didn't know about Ellison until this week: Like Dr. Evil, Freddie Mercury, and Taylor Swift before him, the Bay Area's resident plutocrat is really into cats.
Over at Buzzfeed, SF writer Andrew Dalton paid a visit to Lana'i, Hawaii's sixth-largest island, 97 percent of which Ellison purchased in 2012. (He doesn't own the airstrip, the public school, and a handful of fields.) What he does own is some 425 feral cats, all residents of the Lana'i Animal Rescue Center, which exists on 3.5 acres of Ellison-managed land. Though the ranch was founded in 2008, before Ellison bought the island, the facility now receives veterinary and accounting support from the Peninsula Humane Society in Burlingame.
The whole piece is well worth a read -- the pictures alone are amazing -- but our favorite part is that the unabashedly ostentatious Ellison has no desire to acknowledge his feline-philia.
Although he has yet to visit the sanctuary himself, Ellison’s relationship with his own cats was remarkable enough to deserve two mentions in his 1997 biography The Difference Between God and Larry Ellison (subtitle: “God Doesn’t Think He’s Larry Ellison”). Ellison’s biographer, journalist Mike Wilson, relays a story told to him by Ellison’s first wife, Adda Quinn. When Ellison’s cat Yitzhak died, Quinn said, he “took off two weeks in mourning. He was nonfunctional.” In another anecdote, Ellison tells Wilson he once returned home to find out his cat Clio died while he was out of town on business. Ellison had the cat’s body exhumed so she could be buried under her favorite tree. When BuzzFeed News reached out to Ellison for comment about his feelings towards felines, especially those on Lana’i, an Oracle rep declined to comment.
What gives, Larry? If you somehow don't think it's macho to come out as cat person, you're sorely mistaken -- even the New York Times says it's okay now.