Vile Bodies

Wilderness: For Sale?

March 17, 2016

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Wilderness: For Sale?

The Bahamas—A calm swath of turquoise sea protected by a hundred-mile string of islands and cays delimit the Atlantic’s blue-dark depths, to the east: an organic barrier as thin as 30 feet wide in places. The nearly unbroken chain of islands is equally sheltered, to the west, from the chilly fathoms of the so-called “Tongue of the Ocean,” as nautical maps designate this final intrusion of the Atlantic into tropical seas. Here upon the Great Bahama Bank, on its shallows between the deeps of east and west—here lie the Exuma Cays. Warm sea temperatures, diving and sunshine, with 365 different cays to moor alongside—one for every day of the year. Accessible by boat, seaplane, and little else…

The Exumas represent a bona fide paradise on earth. If the Bahamas attracts celebrities and business tycoons, the Exumas perhaps appeal to the echelon above. The Exumas are, after all, “the ultimate” in a marine context. Residents recently included Johnny Depp, the magician David Copperfield, Eddie Murphy, and Tyler Perry; the Aga Khan and Bernard Arnault also own islands inside this paradise.

There’s trouble in paradise, too, of course. The Bahamas has long captured the imagination of the world, just as it has attracted some of the biggest egos the world ever produced, leading to ludicrously absurd goings-on in the wild blue yonder. And closer to home, too. In genteel enclaves like Nassau’s Lyford Cay, a club so elitist it refuses membership to trazillionaires, indicating no amount of money can buy membership.

“The Bahamas has long captured the imagination of the world, just as it has attracted some of the biggest egos the world ever produced.”

It doesn’t stop modern-day pirates from trying, however. In 2014, Vanity Fair covered the continuing feud between two Bahamas-based billionaires: in one corner, Peter Nygard, a self-styled Mayan god resembling Peter Stringfellow; and in the other, Louis Bacon, a buttoned-up New York hedge funder who is not to be underestimated either. While Mr. Nygard ignores 1,000 marine construction laws to continue building his Mayan temple [sic] on the peninsula across the outer border of Lyford Cay, Mr. Bacon chooses to stay away for now.

Peter Nygard’s latest transgression is stealing beaches via subaquatic suction of large volumes of sand from the seafront of his neighbors’ properties. An illegal act requiring special expertise and the use of tubes and so-called “groins” through which to vacuum the sand from the aforementioned beaches. All in order to enlarge his own property by 300 square meters, according to locals familiar with the situation. This includes the extension of his private beach, a stretch of white sand that has tripled in length as if by miracle. That’s not all: The punch line’s coming.

Follow the coast to the right of Nygard’s estate and you will view no less than ten charming seaside (formerly beachfront) houses—sitting atop a fragile-looking rocky outcrop. With no beach to be seen whatsoever, at high tide or low. Because Nygard allegedly sucked sand from their very own beaches, from their private beachfront properties, to augment his own, as photographs show. Nygard’s beach, it’s undeniable, appears to be in rude health. Aesthetic rage aside, Nygard’s neighbors are calculating the financial consequence of this “theft of nature.” Local Realtors confirm the difference in price between a beachfront property and a property with no beach frontage comes to $10 million. Meaning Nygard allegedly stole {10 x $10m} worth of sandy beach fronting the world’s primest real estate—and did so right under his neighbors’ eyes.

The Nygard/Bacon battle reached a previous high two years back when Bacon acquired military-strength speakers capable of (1) projecting noise 100 meters ahead of the speakers (with silence in between), and (2) transmitting sound waves so high-volume, so physically penetrative—so harsh—that the Russian army uses such technology to disperse protesters, for example. The human, even canine, eardrum cannot withstand such sonic force as Bacon directed onto Nygard’s estate. Bacon let the speakers loose at 7 a.m., as one of Nygard’s notorious parties was winding down. He and his guests may have been thinking of, and slinking toward, their beds when BAM!!! Bacon’s sound wave hit them hard when they least expected it. The Nygard compound was abandoned, rapidly deserted—so goes the legend. It’s old news.

Now it has emerged—only in the past few days—that Mr. Nygard allegedly paid two assassins to murder his rival, Mr. Bacon, promising them untold additional fortunes if successful. You can read about it, in multimedia—including the firebombing of a pastor’s car for $20,000—in the Daily Mail feature of March 13. The Marx Brothers-style hitmen, convicted criminals named Bullard and Davilma, appear to be playing both sides for maximum profit. The case has gone to court:

Bacon and three other board members, as well as a pastor, filed papers in a Bahamian court on Wednesday that claimed Nygard organized a gang assault of one director, according to the New York Post.

They also claim Nygard paid Bullard to fire-bomb the pastor’s car. Bullard admitted in a sworn statement that the tycoon gave him $20,000 for the job.

During a deposition, Bullard said Nygard also promised him and Davilma “two houses” as payment for killing Bacon.

Davilma said they were promised an unspecified but “huge, huge amount” payment as well.

The Tribune on March 15 reported that police had opened an official investigation and had even “quizzed” the prime minister about Peter Nygard, described as a Canadian fashion tycoon:

Both Prime Minister Christie and Deputy Prime Minister Davis’ names were mentioned in secret recordings between Mr Nygard, Livingston “Toggie” Bullard and Wisler “Bobo” Davilma.

Bullard and Davilma identified themselves as high profile gang members in court documents and allege that Mr Nygard gave them a “hit list” of people to murder or “send a message” to.

The entire smear campaign may be a hoax. Rumors indicate that the “hitmen” concerned offered both parties (Nygard and Bacon) the service of alleging whatever they so wished, in order to defame the other. The highest bidder would win.

Returning to the Exumas, the biggest bone of contention is the increasing presence of private landowners who pay big bucks to acquire islands inside the protected zone…only to remake the nature they acquired in their own image, frequently breaking the law. Typically these are foreigners who still see the Bahamas as something of a pirate nation, given its history and current profile as an offshore banking center and tax haven. Their expectation is that bribery is an acceptable method for getting around red tape, that corruption flourishes in this island nation. As a result of this expectation that parts of the nation are for sale, environmental gangsterism occurs on a frequent basis.


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