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Private Islands for Sale, 2012

No man is an island, wrote poet John Donne. But what man -- or woman -- hasn’t dreamed of owning one?

The allure of owning an island recently captured the imagination of one well-known billionaire. In June, Larry Ellison, the CEO of Oracle and the third-richest American, bought 98% of the Hawaiian island of Lanai in a deal valued at more than $500 million. With a population of 3,000 people, Lanai isn’t exactly a private retreat. But this shouldn’t be a problem for Ellison, who owns properties in Malibu, Lake Tahoe, Newport, R.I., and Kyoto, Japan, among other locales.

While Ellison’s purchase might be an extravagant example, island ownership is a real estate niche all its own. Long the province of the well-heeled, the market took a big hit in the housing collapse. Prices have bottomed out, and islands that were once overvalued have dropped to more affordable levels, according to Chris Krolow, CEO of Private Islands Inc.

The idea of buying your own island may be enticing, but don’t kid yourself. This is a luxury, not an investment. Expect to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars beyond the asking price to build on an undeveloped property and years trying to get the appropriate permits. You can get an island with all the amenities already built, but many customers in this high-end market want to put their own mark on it, according to Farhad Vladi, president of Vladi Private Islands.

Whether buying a private island is a real possibility or a far-flung dream, check out these ten islands currently for sale, ranging from just $295,000 to $1.45 million.

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