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The enduring appeal of remote Pacific islands for rich apocalypse preppers

By Kelsey Ables
Washington Post
July 26th, 2023

Whether it’s space, the ocean’s darkest depths or everlasting life, uberwealthy tech leaders are infamous for grandiose visions of where their deep pockets might take them. Among these is the dream of getting away from taxes, governments and even the apocalypse by escaping to some remote place — such as an island in the Pacific.

It’s this vision that made an appearance in a lawsuit filed last week by failed cryptocurrency exchange FTX, which is looking to recover more than $1 billion from its founder, Sam Bankman-Fried, and three other executives. The complaint details plans to use FTX funds to purchase the island nation of Nauru, an atoll that is home to more than 12,000 people, and to survive the end of the world by building a bunker there.

The “bunker/shelter” would be used for “some event where 50%-99.99% of people die,” said a memo exchanged between Bankman-Fried’s brother, Gabriel, and an officer at FTX’s philanthropy arm, according to the court document. “Probably there are other things it’s useful to do with a sovereign country, too,” it said. Bankman-Fried’s lawyer did not respond to a request for comment.

Apart from the difficulty of simply purchasing a sovereign state — a representative for Nauru has said it “was not and has never been for sale” — experts caution that it is not an ideal place to live out the end times. The 8.1-square-mile island has limited fresh water, little arable land andimports at least 90 percent of its food. With most of its critical infrastructure on the coast, it is especially vulnerable to extreme weather amid climate change.

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