A Japanese billionaire who splashed out £300,000 to ‘hire’ an Italian city for a four day birthday weekend has told MailOnline ‘it was money well spent’.
Kaoru Nakajima turns 73 on Sunday and has paid for 1,400 friends and employees to fly half way around the world for the party.
He has block booked rooms at hotels across the city of Palermo on the island of Sicily and hired two theatres for a gala dinner and concert.
Speaking exclusively to MailOnline after attending a brunch at the magnificent 300-year-old Villa Niscemi on the outskirts of Palermo he said: ‘Coming here is a dream come true for me.
‘I have always wanted to come to Palermo and have read a lot about the city. It is a wonderful place, full of art, history and culture and I have wanted to come here for years.
Japanese billionaire Kaoru Nakajima (pictured) turns 73 on Sunday and has paid for 1,400 friends and employees to fly half way around the world for the party
He has block booked rooms at hotels across the city of Palermo on the island of Sicily and hired two theatres for a gala dinner and concert. Pictured: Guests arrive at Palermo
Kaoru Nakajima told MailOnline ‘it was money well spent’. Pictured: Japanese guests continue to arrive at Palermo
‘I am only here for a few days but the weather is fantastic and I hope that my guests have a wonderful time here.’
Dressed in a prince of Wales check suit Mr Nakajima leaned heavily on a walking stick as he left the brunch accompanied by his staff.
Palermo Mayor Roberto Lagalla had thrown the event as a thank you to the tycoon, whose guests are expected to spend thousands of pounds in the city’s restaurants and shops.
Officials confirmed the Japanese businessman had paid €14,000 to hire the Politeama theatre for the weekend.
But they refused to confirm a reported €100,000 fee for the Teatro Massimo, where a concert is due to be held on Sunday by opera legend Andrea Bocelli’s son, Matteo.
On the menu for brunch were traditional Sicilian specialities including sea urchins, gnocchi with Chianina steak meatballs, all accompanied by Sicilian wines,
Mr Lagalla told MailOnline: ‘I had the pleasure of receiving the Japanese entrepreneur Kaoru Nakajima at Villa Niscemi, on a private visit.
‘It was a very cordial meeting full of exchanges of opinions on Italy and Japan, but we talked above all about Palermo and, as mayor, I am very satisfied to have seen how much the entrepreneur and the many guests liked the city.
‘The last few days Japanese people who are visiting the streets of the capital has said how much they appreciated the friendly hospitality of the people of Palermo.’
Dressed in a prince of Wales check suit Mr Nakajima leaned heavily on a walking stick as he left the brunch accompanied by his staff
Japanese magnate Kaoru Nakajima, who is in Palermo for his birthday was invited to lunch by the mayor (L)
Kaoru Nakajima, pictured, has block booked the finest hotels in Palermo, on the island of Sicily, as well as two theatres for a gala concert and dinner on Sunday for the four-day event
Excited guests were flown business class from Japan by Mr Nakajima. They were pictured excitedly posing for selfies as they made their way to Palermo on connecting flights.
As he posed on the tarmac with pals, one guest Naohiko Takagi, told MailOnline: ‘We have been looking forward to this event for days.
‘Mr Nakajima is a very generous boss and he has paid for more than 1,000 employees to come to Sicily to celebrate his 73rd birthday on Sunday.
‘I’ve never been here before and we hope to see lots of the city and surrounding area – we are so excited.’
Others gave thumbs up as they stood by stairs taking them to the plane and made video calls to pals back in Japan.
Mr Nakajima, made his fortune after selling his stake in multi-level marketing firm AmWay, and then starting up his own MLM companies.
AmWay (American Way) sells household and beauty products and convinces customers to become paid distributors of the products.
Mr Nakajima was one of the company’s best sellers when he worked for them and in the 1990s he made AmWay history by doubling the sales of his group of 750,000 distributors.
At one point he was reportedly brining in 40% of the firm’s business in Japan and 12% of the company’s global revenue.
The father of three has hired out Palermo’s oldest and most iconic landmarks including opera houses, theatres and hotels.
The Rocco Forte Villa Igiea and the Grand Hotel et des Palmes, both on the sea front have been booked out – with rooms costing from £600 up to £3,000 a night for a sea facing suite.
On Friday Mr Nakahimi, pictured, and his party took in a sight-seeing trip around Palermo and he stopped off for lunch at Osteria Ballaro
Many arrivals took selfies as soon as they touched down in Palermo before heading to the party
Mr Nakajima is said to have picked Palermo as the venue after being told about it by Andrea Bocelli, who is a friend of his and also a firm favourite with the British royal family.
Delighted restaurant owners and other local businesses are rubbing their hands at the prospect of hundreds of visitors spending money in what is usually a dead time of year.
Celebrations kicked off on Thursday with a performance of Don Giovanni where Mr Nakajima sat in the royal box at the Teatro Massimo.
On Friday he and his party took in a sight-seeing trip around Palermo and he stopped off for lunch at Osteria Ballaro.
Mr Nakajima, accompanied by his assistant Maso Katano, and other members of his entourage, was dressed in an Italian football team tracksuit.
Mr Nakajima is said to have picked Palermo as the venue after being told about it by Andrea, who is a friend of his and also a firm favourite with the British royal family
On its Facebook page the restaurant Osteria Ballaro said: ‘We had the great honour of hosting Kaoru Nakajima, who chose Palermo for an event that highlights our city’
On its Facebook page the restaurant said: ‘We had the great honour of hosting Kaoru Nakajima, who chose Palermo for an event that highlights our city.
‘He complimented us on our cooking and service and we gifted him some local pastries and cakes from our chef.
‘A warm welcome to him and all his guests – Palermo is a hospitable city.’
So far there has been no sign of his wife opera singer Atsuko Kakioka – who is also fond of Italy and performed in theatres across the country.
Source: | This article originally belongs to Dailymail.co.uk