Mark Zuckerberg, the billionaire CEO of Facebook, announced an op-ed in Kauai’s newspaper, the Garden Island, that he will drop his lawsuits against hundreds of native Hawaiians to force the sale of land within his Kauai estate.
“Upon reflection, I regret that I did not take the time to fully understand the quiet title process and its history before we moved ahead,” Zuckerberg wrote. “Now that I understand the issues better, it’s clear we made a mistake.”
Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan purchased the 700-acre beachfront estate on Kauai’s North Shore for $100 million in 2014.
The 14 parcels at stake in the Zuckerberg case mostly belong to Native Hawaiian families awarded the property in the 1850s after land was privatized for the first time in Hawaii – and are located within the boundaries of the 700-acre estate. Many original owners died without wills. Ownership today is split among hundreds of descendants, many of whom are unaware of their shares.
Zuckerberg and his wife filed court cases last month to identify the owners and ask the court to auction the land. The litigation was aimed at forcing these families to sell their land at a public court auction to the highest bidder, according to the Independent.
After the Honolulu Star-Advertiser first reported on the lawsuits, Zuckerberg took to his own Facebook page to defend himself, calling the media coverage “misleading”. Zuckerberg attempted to cast the suits as a boon for the defendants, since they might “receive money for something they never even knew they had”.
Although, Zuckerberg has dropped the lawsuit, he is still off to a rough start with his neighbors. In addition to the lawsuits, many residents of Kauai continue to resent the massive mile-long wall he built along the border of his property.