The owner of the Los Angeles Rams—soon to be returning to City of Angels after a 20-year detour in St. Louis—has just touched down as the fifth-largest land baron in the United States, according to The Land Report.
Let the sports fans tally up wins and losses. For billionaires, it’s all about a different metric: Who owns the most land? And when one of the rich guys moves up this rarefied list, it’s big news.
Stan Kroenke, whose company Kroenke Sports Enterprises also owns the NBA’s Denver Nuggets and the NHL’s Colorado Avalanche, scored the coveted fifth spot (up from a still very impressive ninth place) after purchasing a 535,000-acre Texas ranch earlier this month. The ranch, which is about 150 miles northwest of Fort Worth, includes cattle, horses—and yes, oil wells spurting black gold.
Topping the list of the biggest property owners are media moguls John Malone and Ted Turner. The rest is a sort of who’s who of wealthy American families and trusts.
Malone, chairman of Liberty Media, is the largest, U.S. landowner, with a whopping 2.2 million acres. That includes Silver Spur Ranches, one of the country’s largest commercial cattle operations, with sites in Wyoming, New Mexico, Colorado, and Nebraska.
Those hundreds of thousands of acres weren’t quite enough for Malone. He also controls Humewood Castle in Ireland, a private resort in the Bahamas—and more than a million acres of forest in Maine and New Hampshire, which he bought in 2011.
Ted Turner, founder of CNN, was close behind his pal Malone, with more than 2 million acres. The property includes the largest herd of bison in the world, according to the magazine. The Emmerson family, which owns the country’s second-biggest lumber producer, came in third on the list, with 1.9 million acres.
New media guys are moving up the list too. Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, who owns the Washington Post, comes in at No. 26 in the latest rankings.
Why buy up such huge amounts of land? The super-rich may plunk down money on vast tracts of property because it’s not tied up in intangible things like the stock market, it can be used to generate additional income (such as growing crops or cattle) and it can be passed down to future generations, says Dennis Moon, national head of specialty asset management at Bank of America’s U.S. Trust business.
“This market volatility is driving people to gray hairs,” Moon says. But, he adds, “There’s always going to be demand for high-quality land, because there’s less and less of it.” Think about the bragging rights for the über-rich! (And you can’t stop talking about your renovated kitchen.)
The most notable large land deals of last year included Dan and Farris Wilks, founders of oil field services company Frac Tech, picking up more than 150,000 acres on top of their more than half a million in Montana and Texas. Homebuilder D.R. Horton also scooped up 109,000 acres in New Mexico, vaulting from 2014’s 32nd place to 23rd spot on the list in 2015.
“You can put your money in gold, you can put your money in the stock market—and you don’t see it, you don’t feel it, you don’t taste it, you don’t enjoy it,” says Eric O’Keefe, editor of The Land Report, explaining why billionaires accumulate property. “You put your money in land…[and in] the worst-case scenario, you’re out enjoying a beautiful piece of property with friends and family.”
The above article was written by Clare Trapasso and posted on Realtor.com on February 16, 2016. It is available here http://www.realtor.com/news/trends/largest-land-barons/
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