America’s Most Expensive Home is for Cowboys


This $175 million luxury cutting horse and cattle ranch is in a valley next to the town of Jackson, WY.
Photo: Forbes Images

Even as so many Americans struggle under the weight of their underwater mortgage loans, in the high-rolling world of billionaire real estate, 2011 has been a year of record-breaking uber expensive properties. In March billionaire investor Yuri Milner plunked down $100 million for a Silicon Valley estate, breaking previous purchase price records in the U.S. Just last week, billionaire heiress Petra Ecclestone became the new owner of the Spelling Manor — an estate whose $150 million asking price had garnered it the title of America’s most expensive home for sale. Just days later, a new property is taking over that “most expensive” title: the $175 million Jackson Land & Cattle ranch.

Jackson Land & Cattle hit the sale block this week, listed with John C. Pierce of Hall & Hall, a ranch real estate firm. The property’s owner is Richard Fields, chief executive of Coastal Development, LLC, a gaming and resort development company. Fields’ $175 million compound encompasses more than 1,750 acres of rolling, green land just outside of Jackson Hole, Wyoming, in Teton County. The expansive ranch hosts cattle and horses. Aspen, evergreen and timber trees stud the hills interspersed with large hay meadows. There are three fishing ponds, a spring creek and over 800 acres of irrigated meadows. The Teton Range of the Rocky Mountains rise up in the distance.

The ranch’s biggest draw is certainly not the residence. The home itself is an old barn that’s been converted into a quaint three bedroom residence. There’s also a four bedroom guest house and two employee apartments. No, the real draw is the world -class 52-stall equestrian center.

View of the Tetons from the stable grounds.
Photo: Forbes Images

The equestrian center started life as an English-style riding center. Fields had it retrofitted for cutting horse training, a Western style of riding in which a rider and his horse separate an animal out from a herd (think of the horseback maneuvers ranchers in western movies do). The center is designed by renowned western architect Jonathan Foote, perhaps most famous for his use of distressed woods, glass and Montana moss rock. Fields convinced the architect to come out of retirement and re-skin the center with rough-cut stone and barn wood. There’s an outdoor riding rink and an indoor one from which you can gaze out windows onto the mountains.

The 52-stall equestrian center was designed by Jonathan Foote.
Photo: Forbes Images

“You can fish and ride and hunt and you’re still only three minutes from downtown Jackson Hole,” says Jonathan Pierce, the property’s listing agent. And for billionaires — the prospective buyers of this pricey piece of nature — the locale comes with benefits. Most notably on taxes. Wyoming doesn’t have a state income tax or an estate tax; even property taxes are low. Jackson and its neighboring areas host a plethora of secondary homes since taxes also don’t have to be paid on out-of-state retirement income. In response, the area draws a substantial number of ultra wealthy residents like Walmart billionaire Christy Walton, the world’s richest woman. Indeed Teton County is one of America’s wealthiest counties per capita.

A notable factor contributing to Jackson Land & Cattle’s price is the fact that it carries entitlements for up to 35 home sites. In other words, if a buyer doesn’t want all that land for himself, he can subdivide and sell parcels of it. Even so, there are hopes that the estate’s buyer won’t find it necessary to do that. “We are dealing with a very capable seller who is hoping for a conservation outcome on the property, although certainly not dictating that,” explains Pierce. “It’s a signature property that the entire community would love to see someone come along that shares Mr. Fields’ appreciation for the open space.”

More than 800 acres of irrigated meadows add to the unrivaled views.
Photo: Forbes Images

That aspiration aside, Pierce acknowledges that that subdivision opportunity definitely contributes to the hefty price tag. Though he chooses not to compare the two properties, neighboring 1,840-acre Walton Ranch is asking a mere $100 million. Despite the two ranches’ comparable sizes, the Walton Ranch’s land is much more heavily protected and only two or three additional home sites would ever be allowed on its acreage.

As for who exactly will want to cough over $175 million to buy this huge western compound? “People wanting the absolute finest property in the absolute finest resort community in the country can give me a call!” chuckles Pierce. Go get him, billionaires.

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~ by mortgagecompliancecorner on July 25, 2011.

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