Italian government set to buy back paradise island

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Budelli was sold to a banker from New Zealand for €2.94 million in October. Photo: Luca Giudicatti/Flickr
12:41 CET+01:00
The Italian government might exercise its right to keep Budelli, considered one of the most beautiful islands in the Mediterranean, in public hands after it was sold to a businessman from New Zealand amid protests.

The Italian senate budget committee has passed an amendment allowing the state to reclaim the island, which was sold at auction to banker Michael Harte for €2.94 million in early October, La Stampa reported.

Budelli, the home of 'Pink' beach, a national park, is part of the La Maddelena island group which lies between Sardinia and Corsica.

The government has a pre-emption right, which expires on January 8th, to buy back the island, and will allocate €3 million towards it, La Stampa said.

“It’s a first win,” said Alfonso Pecoraro Scanio, the former environment minister who has promoted a petition, containing 85,000 signatures, against the island’s private sale.

Harte, who is the chief information officer for Australia’s Commonwealth Bank, bought the island after its previous owner, a property company in Milan, went bankrupt.


The entrepreneur was said to have been “in love with the Maddelena archipelago for decades” and planned to draw up conservation plans with the aim of protecting its ecosystem.

Giò Mura, Harte’s lawyer, was unavailable for comment when contacted by The Local. 

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Budelli is an unspoilt island of 1.6 square kilometres where construction is banned and access is only permitted alongside a member of staff from the park’s authority.

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