Guy Laliberte
Guy Laliberte
(PHOTOGRAPHER: James Blair)

THE billionaire founder of Cirque du Soleil has been arrested after police found marijuana growing on his private island in the French Polynesia. 

Guy Laliberte, from Canada, began his career as an accordion player and puppeteer in Quebec.

In 1983, he was granted a $1 million loan to create a show for the 450th anniversary of Canada’s discovery.

He called it Le Grand Tour du Cirque du Soleil and the rest is history.

He is now worth more than $1 billion after he sold 90% of the company which owns Cirque du Soleil to a business congolmerate for around €1.36 billion in 2015.

It meant he was finally able to finance his dream of turning a private island in the French Polynesia into a luxury resort.

Can Soleil
Can Soleil, Guy’s palace in Ibiza

Called Nukutepipi and measuring just 2.3sqkm, it is for hire for groups no larger than 50 and for a cool $1 million per week.

But he is now facing charges of possession and cultivation of narcotics after authorities found marijuana plants on the idyllic isle.

His lawyers claim his cannabis use was strictly medical and personal.

Laliberte has courted controversy in the past, with one book claiming his famous parties in Montreal turned into ‘everything goes’ orgies.

The entrepreneur is also a big name in Ibiza.

His five children – from his marriages to Brazilian model Rizia Moreira and Italian model Claudia Barilla – all enjoy summers at the huge mansion he has on the island.

He is also said to host some of the craziest parties the White Isle has ever seen.

The Canadian has opened two art galleries on the party island, Lune Rouge and Art Projects Ibiza, both near the centre of town.

Heart Ibiza
Heart Ibiza

According to Forbes, he loans pieces from his personal collection to the Museum of Contemporary Art of Ibiza.

“I’ve been going to Ibiza since 1979,” Guy told Forbes earlier this year.

“I went through the evolution of the art scene and love its energy. I go back to Ibiza every year, but I don’t live there full time. I wanted to bring art to Ibiza in hopes that it would influence tourists to go there not only to party, but also to learn about the artists that we are showcasing.

“It felt like a great way of giving back to open our collection to the public in our two art galleries. The island has a tradition of highly creative people coming to develop their art (writing, music, fine arts among others) and to bring art from everywhere into this naturally beautiful context.

“The two art spaces that we opened are to share art with the community, and they are open all year long.”

The businessman’s influence also extends to the food and drink industry, having opened Heart Ibiza nightclub and restaurant, which he owns with famous chefs Albert and Ferran Adria.

The businessman, who turned 60 last September, is also known for being a passionate poker player, a hobby that has reportedly cost him more than €27 million.

Liberte was also one of the first space tourists after paying €31.7 million euros in 2009 to to be able to visit the International Space Station for 10 days.

The investigation continues.

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