It is reported today that the Australian hedge fund performer extraordinaire, Greg Coffey- known as The Wizard of Oz on account of trades that have seen him build a personal fortune estimated as not far south of £450 million – has just retired at 41.
It appears to be the classic story of wanting to spend more tine with his family.
Mr Coffey has a property portfolio scattered across the globe, amongst which is the Ardfin estate on the Isle of Jura, which includes Jura House and the famous Jura Gardens.
Until Mr Coffey bought the estate in November 2010, the Jura gardens had traditionally been open to the public and were a mainstay of the island’s tourist offer.
Six months after the acquisition, in May 2011, we reported that:
‘Islanders, the managers of other estates on Jura, the Jura Community Council and the and the Jura Development Trust share real concern about the impact on Jura’s economic sustainability of this action. It should be said at once that these concerns appear to have been laid at rest.
‘Coffey, a hedge fund manager known as the Wizard of Oz because of his deal-making capacities is thought never to have seen the estate he has bought. But he has a family and the acquisition of a property like this is unlikely to leave that situation as it is for very long.
‘Greg Coffey’s spokesperson has said that the gardens are closed while the house is being renovated, work which will apply to the gardens as well. – and that it is his intention to reopen the gardens to the public when this is complete and most probably in time for the 2012 season.
‘Anxieties on the island relate to the inevitable loss of visitors permanent closure of the gardens would bring.’
The reality is that the 2012 visitor season has been and gone and the Jura Gardens remain closed.
It is a common enough feature of new entry buyers of remote estates that it takes time to understand the interconnectedness of things in rural areas and the social and economic responsibilities the local estates carry.
Perhaps, with more time than he has previously had at his disposal, the Wizard will visit his den on Jura, meet up with Jura Distillery Manager, Willie Cochrane, be inducted as an honorary Dhuirach and see the light on the need to open the gardens.
His entrepreneurial expertise would also be welcome in a spectacularly beautiful island, rich in wildlife, outdoor experiences and landscape but, like many others, perpetually struggling with sustainability.