… as poet John Donne noted in the 17th century. However, if you had to be an island – an actual island and not a metaphorical one – Motu Tane (“Man’s Island” in Tahitian) would certainly be a great choice. And not only because of its breathtaking views of nearby Bora Bora’s twin-peaked profile. The dominant colour of private islet Motu Tane is the lush green of coconut trees, laced with white South Sea sand and the beautiful ocean waters surrounding it, shimmering in every hue of blue and turquoise. Yes, it does exist… the South Sea paradise that Gauguin envisioned and which he painted in numerous works. Works that were not an entirely truthful depiction of the Tahiti he encountered. His idealised version of the island thrilled the art world. Painting female islanders, those exotic, dark-skinned women…  at the time it was a revolutionary act.

With sufficient spare change you now have the opportunity to purchase Motu Tane and live there as peacefully and withdrawn as the French painter would have liked to, after he fled France for the tropics. The “happy inhabitants of this neglected paradise in Oceania don’t know anything of life but its sweetness. For them life is song and love” he wrote to the Danish painter Jens-Ferdinand Willumsen in late 1890.

Hasn’t everyone dreamed at some point of owning a private island in warmer climes? If you are considering turning this fantasy into reality, you should hurry, because more and more wealthy dreamers buy islands as their private refuges. Motu Tane is still available, however. Until recently the island could be rented for luxury holidays by tourists with a royal travel budget at their disposal. Now a new owner for the 39,000 m²  island is wanted, and auctioning house Sotheby’s is determined to find one.


This little island is part of the Society Islands of French-Polynesia, close to Bora Bora, and right in the middle of the South Sea. It has achieved renown as one of the most exclusive islands-for-rent in the area. In 2000, cosmetics-mogul François Nars bought Motu Tane and gave it a costly makeover. Before him, the polar explorer, ethnologist, and writer Paul-Émile Victor had lived there with his wife Colette Faure and their son Teva. Victor died in 1995 aged 87.

After its overhaul by Nars, the island featured a gigantic luxury bungalow with 2500m² living space. The building offers all kinds of luxury, but still blends in with the island’s nature. Especially to enjoy the spectacles of sunrise and sunset, additional bungalows were built on both sides of Motu Tane.

Motu Tane Private Island

If you bring 20 of your best friends or your extended family, the island is full to capacity, however. May to November are the best months for a visit, while  between December and April heavy tropical rain may diminish the quality of your stay enormously. The best route to Motu Tane is from Los Angeles, as the film metropolis is easily accessible internationally. From there you can catch a plane to Papeete on Tahiti. For people with time on their hands, the 45 minute boat trip to the island might be a nice choice. Those who fancy reaching their destination quicker should fly to Bora Bora – and reach Motu Tane within ten minutes by boat.

The thatched main bungalow houses two master suites with separate entrances. Each of the suites features a bedroom with a king size bed, a living room, and a bathroom with a sunken lava bathtub. A 230m² room in the main bungalow can be used as an event space. Its doors close automatically in the case of wind or a tropical downpour. Furthermore, you will find a dining room with two big tables, a library adorned with Polynesian art, and a state-of-the art kitchen.


…which could also be a good slogan for this agency… There is no need to fear cabin fever on the 39,000m² island. Your guests will spend the night in tasteful beach bungalows decorated in an African style, which are scattered all over Motu Tane and feature king size beds. Of course, we’ve all got to eat – even though the South Sea air seems almost nourishing enough. All meals and drinks are naturally included in the renting price and are served in the dining room of the main house. Whether you like to have lunch or dinner at the beach in the shadow of coconut trees, or you fancy a barbecue, or even a romantic torch-lit dinner, all of the above is easily possible.

Do you like to be active during your holidays? This beautiful place offers everything that a sports fan could desire: You can jet ski, snorkel, dive, go whale and dolphin watching, or work out in the gym. And if you simply want to treat your eyes and soothe your soul, the view of the turquoise-coloured sea which is forming iridescent rings around the island, should do the trick.

François Nars asked French designer Christian Liaigre to reinvent the island. Liaigre added many coconut trees, and surrounded every bungalow with them. As an entrepreneur, Nars was of course unable to relax continuously in the South Sea. When the island was vacant, it could therefore be rented for 25000 US Dollars a day. This sounds like a tremendous sum, but contrasted with the cost of buying it, the rent is almost a bargain.

The prospective buyer has to put up around 39 million euro, roughly 42 million US Dollars, to purchase Motu Tane. To put that into perspective: Most private islands cost between one and ten million euro. However, after purchasing the island you will be in good company. Billionaire Richard Branson bought Neckar Island, celebrity magician David Copperfield summoned Musha Cay into his possession. And maybe you, too, will soon shout out: ‘Aita pea pea!’ A local exclamation that means “Not to worry!”… Wouldn’t that be nice?