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2011 Land Report 100: John Malone

No. 1 John Malone 2,200,000 acres John Malone, the 70-year-old chairman of Liberty Media, is famously reticent when it comes to discussing his business life. There is, however, one subject that makes the Denver businessman open up: his personal land

2011 Land Report 100: John Malone

No. 1 John Malone

2,200,000 acres

John Malone, the 70-year-old chairman of Liberty Media, is famously reticent when it comes to discussing his business life. There is, however, one subject that makes the Denver businessman open up: his personal land holdings.

Recently, he’s had a lot more to talk about. In 2011, Malone became the largest private landowner in the U.S., wresting the top spot on The Land Report 100 from his friend and longtime business partner, Ted Turner. His decades-long rise to the top dates back to the 1990s, when Malone began acquiring land in Colorado, New Mexico, and Wyoming. His land grab kicked into overdrive in the summer of 2010 when he purchased New Mexico’s historic 290,100-acre Bell Ranch. In early 2011, he snapped up an additional 1 million acres of timberland in Maine and New Hampshire to become America’s leading land baron. Malone says his lust for land harkens back to his Irish genes: “A certain land hunger comes from being denied property ownership for so many generations.”

Why buy now? Malone says he was enticed by two trends: a drop in land prices and a decrease in the cost of borrowing. And though he says he operates his landholdings to break even, he also recognizes that real estate “is a pretty decent hedge on the devaluation of currency.”

Malone is an ardent conservationist, an ethic he shares with Turner. While the duo’s ends are the same, their means differ somewhat. “I tend to be more willing to admit that human beings aren’t going away,” Malone says. His 2011 Maine and New Hampshire purchase, which was brokered by LandVest’s Timberland Division, saw him acquire robust sustainable forestry operations from private equity firm GMO Renewable Resources. He intends to keep them in place. He applies this philosophy to his western properties, such as the Bell, where he raises cattle and horses. Ultimately, he plans to put all of his land in perpetual conservation easements.

So how does Malone’s good friend feel about being knocked off the top spot on The Land Report 100? CNN’s founder couldn’t be happier. “I consider John a good friend and have great respect for him,” Turner says.

Malone notes that it was Turner who “first gave me this land-buying disease” on a helicopter ride the two shared on a Turner ranch. Malone is not done yet either. He says he is looking at a large parcel in the Northeast and Canada that would “double us in the forestry side.” He’s adding cropland so that “we can go a little more vertical in cattle and produce more of our own feed and control costs better,” he says.

But in the end, there’s more involved than economics and conservation. “There’s the emotional and intellectual aspect of walking the land and getting that sense of awe,” says Malone. “I own it, sort of, for my lifetime.” — Monte Burke



  1. John Malone
  2. Ted Turner
  3. Archie Aldis Emmerson
  4. Brad Kelley
  5. Irving Family
  6. Singleton Family
  7. King Ranch Heirs
  8. Pingree Heirs
  9. Reed Family
  10. Stan Kroenke
  11. Ford Family
  12. Lykes Bros. Heirs
  13. Briscoe Family
  14. W.T. Waggoner Estate
  15. Holland Ware
  16. D.M. O’Connor Heirs
  17. Drummond Family
  18. Phillip Anschutz
  19. J.R. Simplot Heirs
  20. Robert Earl Holding
  21. Anne Marion
  22. East Family Foundation
  23. Hughes Family
  24. Collins Family
  25. Patrick Broe
  26. Nunley Family
  27. Fasken Family
  28. Jeff Bezos
  29. Collier Family
  30. H.I. Kokernot Heirs
  31. Babbitt Ranches
  32. Lyda Family
  33. Jones Heirs
  34. True Family
  35. Reynolds Family
  36. Mike Smith
  37. Paul Fireman
  38. D.K. Boyd
  39. The Koch Family
  40. David Murdock
  41. McCoy & Remme Families
  42. Scott Family
  43. Roxana Hayne & Joan Kelleher
  44. Cassidy Heirs
  45. Louis Moore Bacon
  46. Killam Family
  47. Irwin Heirs
  48. Langdale Family
  49. Eugene Gabrych
  50. Bogle Family
  51. Hunt Family
  52. Tim Blixseth
  53. Bidegain Family
  54. Williams Family
  55. Robert A. Funk
  56. Russell Gordy
  57. Broadbent Family
  58. Sugg Family
  59. Benjamin W. Griffith III
  60. Cogdell Family
  61. Leo Drey Foundation
  62. Fanjul Family
  63. Hearst Family
  64. Ellison Family
  65. Bass Family
  66. Emily Garvey Bonavia
  67. Boswell Family
  68. Eddy Family
  69. William Henry Green Heirs
  70. Wells Family
  71. Gerald J. Ford
  72. Mike Mechenbier
  73. Harrison Family
  74. Thomas Lane Family
  75. Issac Ellwood Heirs
  76. JA Ranch Heirs
  77. Monahan Family
  78. Les Davis Heirs
  79. Booth Family
  80. Brite Ranch Heirs
  81. Reese Family
  82. Moursund Family
  83. Scharbauer Family
  84. Clayton and Modesta Williams Jr.
  85. Stan Harper
  86. Frank Leonard Vandersloot
  87. Richard and Victoria Evans
  88. Linnebur Family
  89. Moore Family
  90. Robinson Family
  91. Beggs Family
  92. Milliken Family
  93. Powell Heirs
  94. Walter Umphrey
  95. Yates Family
  96. Butler Heirs
  97. Eshleman-Vogt Family
  98. J. Luther King Jr. & Frank King
  99. Hampton Family
  100. Aubrey McClendon


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Posted in 2011 Fall, Feature, Field Reporters

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  1. […] billion-dollar sale ranks as the largest land deal since John Malone’s purchase of more than one million acres of Maine and New Hampshire timberland in 201… and was structured as follows: $869 million for the 501,000 acres of timberlands; $65 million for […]


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