Money may not grow on trees but billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili is proving money can guarantee he grows whatever tree he pleases.
On Monday, the former prime minister of Georgia had a tulip tree that is believed to be more than 135 years old uprooted and shipped along the Black Sea to be transplanted in his dendrology park.
The 650-ton tree and its root system took seven hours to travel 25 miles by barge from Ajara to Ivanishvili’s estate. Workers spent the majority of the day trying to get the boat started, as the weight of the tree was causing issues.
Ivanishvili’s actions were met with criticism from environmentalists, who pointed out that the excavation occurred during the Liriodendron tulipifera’s flowering cycle and it wouldn’t likely survive into the next year.
“There are only a few dozen tulip trees in Georgia and this majestic 135-year-old specimen has zero chance of surviving replanting,” Guerrilla Gardeners activist Nata Peradze told AFP.
Some were in awe of the towering tree sailing across the sea, calling the sight surreal, but others were simply disgusted.
Mariam Kanchaveli, another activist with Guerrilla Gardening, told BBC Outside Source that she was “mad, sad and at the same time still laughing.”
Ivanishvili defended his actions buy saying the tree was purchased legally and that he was placing it in a park that he felt was appropriate.
“Giant trees are my hobby,” he said.
The billionaire also collects a number of exotic animals, including zebras, kangaroos and penguins.
To grasp the massiveness of the tree, check out the video below.