Japanese billionaire Kaoru Nakajima has drawn both admiration and criticism in Sicily, Italy, for hosting an extravagant three-day birthday celebration in the Sicilian capital.
Nakajima’s party: Nakajima rented several historic cultural institutions to celebrate his 73rd birthday in Palermo, according to The Times. He hired landmarks like the Teatro Massimo, Italy's largest opera house, and the Politeama Theatre, where custom seating was ordered for his guests. Sicilian symphonic orchestra was reportedly relocated to accommodate the festivities.
He also accommodated his 1,400 guests in luxury hotels, including the five-star Villa Igiea on Palermo’s beachfront and the Grand Hotel et des Palmes. The billionaire organized a banquet by a celebrity chef and performances of Don Giovanni conducted by the acclaimed Riccardo Muti.
Controversy: While some locals view the influx of wealthy guests as an economic opportunity, others are concerned about the appropriation of cultural treasures. Renato Schifani, the governor of Sicily, expressed unease about private, wealthy individuals accessing publicly owned cultural assets.
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“I'm a liberal person who has always been open to the private sector but there's a limit to everything,” Schifani said, according to the Daily Mail. “In this way we are opening an unprecedented window, which could lead to other private individuals requesting similar treatment.”
About the billionaire: Nakajima's wealth comes from his success in multi-level marketing with Amway, a company that sells household and beauty products and recruits customers as paid distributors. He excelled at Amway, reportedly doubling the sales of his group of around 750,000 distributors in the 1990s and contributing significantly to the company’s business both in Japan and globally.
Nakajima, who is also a singer and composer, later opened up his own companies after selling his stake in Amway. He has also written motivational books, including “Important Life Lessons I Learned from the Superelite” and “Destiny Awaits You to Decide.”
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