America’s 100 Largest Landowners… And Here Is What They Own
The 100 largest private landowners in the US own a combined 40 million acres, an area roughly the size of Florida.
But who are they, exactly?
In a recent interactive story, Bloomberg matches some of the largest landowning families with some of their flagship parcels of land.
According to BBG, the top 100 private landowners own property in 39 states. Their parcels suit a number of purposes, from investment, conservation, tax benefits or simply the bragging rights that come with owning large chunks of the US.
Below, all of the land owned by this rarefied group is highlighted in green.
The top ten landowning families control an area roughly equivalent in size to the state of West Virginia.
Their names are (units in acres):
John Malone: 2.20 million
Emmerson family: 1.96 million
Ted Turner: 1.92 million
Stan Kroenke: 1.38 million
Reed family: 1.33 million
Irving family: 1.25 million
Brad Kelley: 1.15 million
Singleton family: 1.10 million
King Ranch heirs: 0.93 million
Peter Buck: 0.93 million
Media moguls John Malone and Ted Turner own more than 4 million acres in 12 states, much of it ranch-land out west. Turner owns a herd of 51,000 bison, the largest privately owned bison herd in the world.
In Maine, sometimes humorously referred to as “the Saudi Arabia of Water”, Malone, Subway co-founder Peter Buck and five other families have bought up so much forest land, that they collectively control one-quarter of the state’s land.
Maine is one of the most sparsely populated states in the union, though it boasts a thriving timber industry. And its abundance of water has made forest land a popular destination for doomsday preppers.
To be sure, some of the families’ holdings date back more than a century. The Pingree heirs’ own 800,000 acres of woodland in Northern Maine. Most of this land has been opened to the public for camping and hiking.
America’s second-largest landowner, the Emmerson family, owns 1.96 million acres of timber-land. Its value, according to the Bloomberg billionaires Index, is $4.2 billion. The Reed family also owns a large swath of timber-land in the area.
Another popular category among the largest property owners is ranch land, which represents 58% of the property owned by the top 100, or more than 23 million acres, mostly concentrated near the Texas-Mexico border.
King Ranch, a south Texas institution founded in 1835, is bigger than Rhode Island. More than 400 miles to the north is the country’s largest ranch behind a single continuous fence, belonging to LA Rams co-owner Stan Kroenke.
The Fanjul family, which owns a lucrative Florida Crystals business, claims to be the only organic sugar cane grower in the US. Just 3% of the top landowners’ holdings is farmland. Most of that is in Florida. This includes vast orange groves owned by the Collier family.
Louis Bacon, a billionaire hedge fund manager, owns some of the most “stunning vistas” in the country. He has conservation easements on much of his property. At least 20 of the top 100 have used these legal agreements, requiring them to preserve their properties in return for tax breaks.
Private land can be transformed into a massive playground for its owner. So it is for oil mogul Russell Gordy’s Montana hunting and cattle ranch.
The property features a hot springs that was a resort until 1932. The Holding family, the clan behind Sinclair Oil Corp., owns Sunlight Ranch, plus the Sun Valley and Snow basin resorts.
BBG’s ranking of the largest landowners comes from its annual land report, which is largely compiled based on interviews and publicly available information (or in some cases private documents) handed over by the landlords or their representatives.