Brainy corporate raider John Malone might not be a household name, but he made a killing in the media industry and parlayed that fortune into his position as America's largest landowner. Following a 2011 purchase of more than 1,000,000 acres of timberland in Maine and New Hampshire, Malone's property portfolio now includes a whopping 2,200,000 acres. As the Daily Mail put it, "the total sum of Mr Malone's land is nearly three Rhode Islands. Or two Delawares." The low-profile Malone won't say how much he paid for the latest million-acre addition, saying only that it was purchased for a "fair price," but with a $4.5B net worth, the media mogul should have plenty of cash left over for further acquisitions.
? Malone's representatives were particularly tight-lipped about the 2011 acquisition of a million acres in Maine and New Hampshire, but he is widely thought to have purchased 980,000 of those acres in Maine, surrounding the tranquil Lake Onawa. The remainder consisted of just 23,000 acres in Dummer, N.H., 20 miles north of Mount Washington. Purchased from private equity giant GMO Renewable Resources, these two tracts were not intended for personal recreation, but were timber investments, and ones that may have increased in value already, as the American housing market regains steam following the recession.
? Of course, that big East Coast buy only increased Malone's already huge holdings, the lynchpin of which is the historic Bell Ranch, which he purchased in August 2010 for around $60M. Located in northeastern New Mexico and consisting largely of cattle grazing land, the ranch was where the famous series of Marlboro Man ads were staged and appears on Stetson hatboxes. An original part of the Montoya land grants of 1824, Bell Ranch was previously owned by the Lane family of Chicago, who held the property for 40 years before attempting to sell in 2006 with an original asking price of $110M.
? For all his love for large tracts of America, John Malone went outside of the U.S. for his latest acquisition. Of Irish descent, Malone went house hunting in Ireland and found one of the country's greatest homes. Known as Humewood Castle, the 38,000-square-foot stone manor sits on 427 bucolic acres, less than an hour south of Dublin. Malone paid around $9.5M for the property, which was owned by an Irish developer who was left holding the bag when the country's economy tanked. The developer had planned to construct a golf resort there, at a cost of $330M, before the credit ran dry. Malone doesn't seem to harbor similar plans, instead using the opulent home as a vacation getaway. An what a vacation it could be, with "ballroom, a minstrels' gallery, a fairy-tale tower, enough staff accommodation to house the entire below-stairs cast of Downton Abbey...a butler's pantry, a billiard room, a smoking room, a wine cellar, a gun room, a flower room, a housemaids' delve larder, a plate closet, and separate day and night nurseries."
· America's 100 Largest Landowners [Land Report]
· Meet the media mogul who overtook Ted Turner to become is America's biggest land owner with property twice the size of Delaware [Daily Mail]
· Update: What A Billionaire Actually Bought In New Hampshire [NPR State Impact]
· Sold! The Bell Ranch [Land Report]
· Liberty Media's John Malone buys castle and 427-acre estate in Ireland [Denver Post]