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He’s Spent Just One Night on His Private Island. He’s Had Enough.

He’s Spent Just One Night on His Private Island. He’s Had Enough.
Columbia Island and neighboring Pea Island, both less than an hour north of Manhattan, are for sale for $13 million.

Albert Sutton paid just over $1 million for something that many rich people dream of — a private island. Then he bought a second island, 400 yards away, for $450,000.

The purchases put Dr. Sutton, a pathologist turned real estate investor, in the universe of better-known island owners like the British entrepreneur Richard Branson and the actors Leonardo DiCaprio, Mel Gibson, Eddie Murphy and Johnny Depp.

But Dr. Sutton’s islands are not in the Caribbean or the Pacific, as theirs are. His islands are a five-minute boat ride across Long Island Sound from New Rochelle, N.Y., less than an hour north of Manhattan.

“I thought I would have great thoughts out here,” he said, standing on his doorstep on Columbia Island, the smaller of the two.

Dr. Sutton’s Columbia Island is one of dozens just off the coasts around the New York City region. Most are smaller than, say, the 413-acre city-owned Rikers Island, with its complex of jails and troubled history of violence and mismanagement. New York City also owns North Brother Island, 20 acres that were once home to the disease-spreading cook better known as Typhoid Mary.

These spits of land have an unusual symphony of names — Potato Island, Pea Island, Rat Island, Davids Island, Tavern Island (“comes complete with a mansion so beautiful even Marilyn Monroe attended parties there,” Elle Décor noted).

In the 1990s, Donald J. Trump tried to buy Davids Island, which is across from Mr. Sutton’s Columbia Island, but ended up abandoning plans to build condominiums or townhouses there (and losing a $500,000 deposit).

More recently, there were rumors that Mr. Trump’s daughter Ivanka was interested in Rat Island, two and a half acres off City Island in the Bronx, according to Roland Veit, a coffee trader who became one of its two owners. He said she did not appear at the auction at which the other owner, Alex Schibli, snapped it up for $176,000.

“Leaving the mainland is everybody’s island dream,” said Rebecca Kinnear, the editor of, a website that typically focuses on islands in warmer places than New York. “When you go to an island you’re escaping the real world, leaving everything behind for, hopefully, palm trees and a perfect beach. Who wouldn’t want to own that?”

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