Famed pink sand of Sardinian island being sold on Web

Budelli's sand among most coveted by collectors

(ANSA) - ROME, AUG 17 - The famed pink sand of the Sardinian island of Budelli in the Maddalena archipelago is being sold to collectors on the Internet, the Sardegna Rubata e Depredata (Sardinia Robbed and Despoiled) Association said Tuesday.
    The Budelli sand is among the most coveted by sand fans, the group said.
    Five years ago the island off Sardinia returned to the public domain when a judge handed it over to the Parco La Maddalena national park, scotching the plans of New Zealand millionaire Michael Harte who had bought it for three million euros.
    The Worldwide Fund for Nature urged the government to "run the archipelago in the best way possible" amid a row over management and expenses.
    Two years earlier, in 2014, a Sardinia judge ruled Italy had a preemptive right to buy back the stunning island off the region's coast after it was bought by Harte, a Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) executive, at auction in October 2013.
    The sale of the tiny island of Budelli to CBA Chief Information Officer Harte for 2.94 million euros sparked an outcry that forced the Italian government to take steps to recover it.
    The island had been put on the block after its original owner, Milan-based Immobiliare Nuova Gallura real estate company, filed for bankruptcy.
    When he bought the 1.6-square-km uninhabited island off Sardinia's northernmost coast, 49-year-old Harte, an avowed conservationist, reportedly said he was committed to ensuring it remained pristine.
    Italy's Senate in 2013 allocated some three million euros to buy Budelli back from Harte, claiming it has preemptive rights over the uncontaminated island that lies in the Maddalena archipelago between Sardinia and Corsica, because it belongs in the geomarine national park by the same name.
    The sale was reversed despite a personal campaign by Harte, who wrote to the Italian environment minister to plead his case.
    Harte raised concerns about the ability of the cash-strapped Italian government to properly fund the preservation of the island's untouched ecosystem.
    Michelangelo Antonioni famously shot some scenes on Budelli's pink beaches for his iconic 1964 movie Red Desert.


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