Dubai DJ who won private island in Canada takes Dh200,000 instead
Brendan Lopez says the potential threat of coronavirus persuaded him to give up the island
A Dubai DJ who won a private island off the coast of Canada has revealed he relinquished the land just before coronavirus struck.
Brendan Lopez, 27, took the decision to abandon ownership of the Nova Scotia site in late January and instead opted for Dh200,000 in cash.
Speaking to The National, he described his choice as the "right move" given his videography business had since been affected by the global health pandemic.
But he said the decision to give up the floating estate had been a tough one, with some of his friends insisting he should hang on to the unique prize.
“From the start I was given the option to keep the island or take the cash," he said. “I held off for months on making a decision because the idea of owning something like that was really cool.
It will be a cool story to tell the grandchildren that I used to own an island, even if I didn’t get the chance to actually visit it
“Then in January, when I started hearing news from China about the coronavirus, I just thought the logical move would be to take the money instead.
“It will be a cool story to tell the grandchildren that I used to own an island, even if I didn’t get the chance to actually visit it."
Located on the far east of Canada's coastline, Hollpoint Island – also known as Hurricane Island – is the size of five football pitches.
The 2.42-hectare strip of land is a short boat ride from the mainland, but takes about 20 hours of flying time to reach from Dubai.
Mr Lopez, who was born and brought up in the UAE, won the island in October last year through a competition launched by Liv, an online bank run by Emirates NBD. As part of the win at the time, he was also given Dh100,000.
“As a freelancer I have felt the impact of Covid-19, so I count myself lucky that I had the chance to do some financial damage control before things worsened globally,” Mr Lopez said.
“I had a lot of jobs postponed or cancelled but things are slowly going back to normal now.”
When Mr Lopez first won the prize, he joked that only people like Richard Branson owned islands.
And although he is no longer the lord of his own floating paradise, he said it was fun while it lasted.
“It was such a cool prize to be on the receiving end of,” he said.
“If circumstances were different, maybe I would have kept it, but some real world issues crept in and I had to make a snap decision.
“There's no doubt I would have loved it, but in reality I would have had no idea what to do with the place.”
In an earlier interview with CBC, a Canadian news site, a spokesman for Liv bank said it bought the island through a Germany-based private island real estate company for about Dh135,000.
According to the real estate site viewpoint.ca, the 2019 tax assessment said owners would be taxed at an annual rate of Dh350.
Updated: July 8, 2020 02:03 PM