Brendon Grimshaw could probably be called either the luckiest or most eccentric man in the world, depending on your point of view.
The 86-year-old Yorkshire native bought Moyenne, a beautiful tropical island in the Seychelles, located in the Indian Ocean, for £8,000 back in 1962 and has been living there ever since. For those of you that aren’t quick with the basic math, that’s 50 years.
He has spent the years transforming the 22½ acres of Moyenne – which was originally so overgrown with dense scrubs that the coconuts that grew there couldn’t even fall to the ground – into a habitable paradise, while still preserving the natural beauty and wildlife of the island. Moyenne is surrounded by coral reef, and at first glance looks entirely wild and untouched.
Most of the work was done with the assistance of his hired hand, Rene Lafortune, until his death a few years ago. Lafortune and Grimshaw planted trees, such as mango, paw-pay, and a variety of palms, and collected and saved rainwater (when it was available) to pump up the hillside. When needed they would row to the main island to collect supplies.
Grimshaw kept his home simple, building only a small wooden, one-story house into the hillside.
Over the years his trees flourished, and after a long time he eventually had running water, electricity, and phone cables brought across from Mahe.
Grimshaw passes his days in the company of several pet dogs, and the island’s tortoises and birds, which he cares for.
The 120 giant tortoises, indigenous to the Seychelles, have been largely killed off on most of the other nearby islands, and Grimshaw is working hard to protect his, painting them with identifying numbers and posting signs for visitors to respect the animals. He’s even named many of them.
When he originally arrived on Moyenne there were no birds, and after several failed attempts to bring some over from other nearby islands, he was eventually able to encourage some to stay, efforts he continues to this day. Putting out five 50kg bags of rice each week for the birds to eat, he now has over 2,000 on his island, adding to the beauty of his surroundings.
Grimshaw allows visitors from Mahe to come over to Moyenne for the day at the price of £10 per person, but strictly prohibits anyone from staying overnight, despite the attempts of many to stay longer.
Although Grimshaw purchased his own private island relatively cheaply back in the day, many of the neighboring islands nearby are exclusively owned by some of the world’s richest elite. His billionaire neighbors include Arab princes, Russian oligarchs, and have lavish private retreats and high-end hotels built upon them.
Grimshaw has been approached many times by the extremely wealthy in an attempt to buy Moyenne after seeing it, including an offer from a Saudi prince that was willing to give him a blank check for the land, but he’s always refused and has no plans to sell. In fact, Grimshaw has made arrangements for the island to be passed back to the people of the Seychelles on the condition that it be preserved and protected as a national park when he finally does leave the island or pass away.
Aside from its natural beauty and diverse wildlife, Moyenne offers more than just breathtaking surroundings, but the possibility of wealth and treasure as well. Pirate treasure.
According to the stories and rumors, Moyenne may be one of the locations where infamous pirate Oliver “The Buzzard” Levasseur buried hoards of his ill-gotten loot in the Seychelles over 200 years ago. Most of the troves of treasure have never been found, including the famous Portuguese Fiery Cross of Goa – which is said to be covered with rubies and diamonds – and caches that are supposedly worth more than £30 million.
Although Grimshaw does admit to having searched extensively for the fabled fortunes in his spare time, and cites evidence such as old graves on the island said to be pirate burial sites and man-made hiding places, if he’s ever come across any of the missing treasure he’s never let anyone know.
He says he’s looked over old maps, searched for clues, and shifted tons of rocks at two separate excavation sites though, so if he hasn’t found anything after 50 years, the odds of anyone else lucking out seem minimal at best. Then again, maybe he has… we may never know!
Pirate treasure or not though, Grimshaw definitely has his own jewel in the ocean – Moyenne – and really, after 50 years in paradise, living the fantasy, what could rival that?