These 10 People Collectively Own 33 Million Acres, Or 1.5% Of All US Land

Tyler Durden's picture

It is a well-known fact that when it comes to ownership of rental properties in the US, Wall Street, and particularly Blackstone, has become the single largest landlord in the country. But what about undeveloped land? As summarized by Vizual-statistix, according to The Land Report published by Fay Ranches, the top 100 owners of US land collectively have 33 million acres in their private holdings.  This equates to about 1.5% of all USA land – that may seem like a small percentage, but it’s actually a massive area.  The chart below lays out the top 10 largest private landowners with the areas of Puerto Rico, Delaware, Rhode Island, and Washington, D.C. included for scale. As can be seen, all of the top 10 own a piece of the USA that is bigger than Rhode Island, and five have a piece that is at least as big as Delaware. John Malone, who is the largest land owner in the country with 2.2 million acres, owns private property the size of Puerto Rico.

Some additional perspective from The Land Report:

  Investing in rural, undeveloped land continues to be a popular strategy among the affluent, according to the 2013 Land Report 100, the latest annual survey and ranking of the largest private landowners in the United States just published by The Land Report and presented by Fay Ranches. Increasingly seen as a “safe deposit box with a view,” acreages continue to be purchased by leading landowners at solid rates. In 2012, the country’s top 100 landowners cumulatively increased their private holdings by 700,000 acres to a total of 33 million acres, nearly 2 percent of U.S. land mass.


Liberty Media Chairman John Malone and his 2.2 million acres under ownership topped the Land Report 100 list, which focuses exclusively on deeded acreage owned by individuals, families, family-owned companies and family-controlled foundations and excludes leased and public lands. Malone edged out Ted Turner, who currently possesses more than 2 million land acres. Rounding out the top five in order were: the Emmerson family, Brad Kelley and the Irving family. The 2013 edition of the Land Report 100 presented by Fay Ranches can be downloaded at


“It’s refreshing to continue seeing large landowners find value in aggregating their land for conservation and agriculture purposes versus parceling it out and developing it,” said land broker Greg Fay, founder of Fay Ranches, which is sponsoring the Land Report 100 for the third straight year and is a longtime supporter of the magazine. “Everyone at Fay Ranches congratulates leading landowners for their commitments to the land, to conserving our wild places and preserving our agricultural heritage.”


This year saw a shake-up in the top ten as Stan Kroenke elevated his position from No. 10 to No. 8 after his recent purchase of the historic Broken O Ranch, described nationally as “one of the largest agricultural operations in the Rocky Mountain West.” Kroenke also owns the 540,000-acre Q Creek Ranch, the largest contiguous ranch in the Rocky Mountains.


There are several landowners new to this year’s 100 list, including No. 28, Dan and Farris Wilks, billionaire brothers who recently purchased more than 400 square miles of land, mostly in the eastern half of Montana. Oil field services entrepreneurs, the Wilks brothers own the prized N Bar Ranch in Montana, which is known for its wildlife and fishery resources. Another new addition to the Land Report 100 presented by Fay Ranches is No. 96, Arthur Nicholas. The co-founder of Nicholas Investment Properties owns Wyoming’s historic Wagonhound Land and Livestock, an AQHA Ranching Heritage Breeder.


“America’s largest landowners continue to recognize land as a compelling asset, one whose numerous attributes go well beyond ROI,” said Eric O’Keefe, editor-in-chief of The Land Report. “It’s a story you’ll see again and again in the Land Report 100, one that features familiar faces and some new ones I’m sure readers will instantly identify. ”

So here is how Bernanke's trickle down supposedly works: US millionaires - rich in assets - become billionaires, increasingly buying up US land, i.e., more assets, while everyone else, read the not so wealthy, buy Made in China trinkets, purchased mostly on credit so loading up on liabilities, i.e., debt.

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LawsofPhysics's picture

One simple question, "are their property taxes per acre the same as mine?"

Tick tock motherfuckers...

Still waiting that ETF on guillotine manufacturers...


yours truly,

a "concerned" farmer

sunaJ's picture

I would amend this to say single private landowners.  The Mormon church is in the top five owners of privately (corporately) held land.



LawsofPhysics's picture

I have many mormen neighbors, at least they know how the fuck to make land productive...

never seen gardens greener.

Troll Magnet's picture

Property tax...Ain't that shit something?  Fuckin' assholes...
"Congratulations on your new property!  Now pay us." 

putaipan's picture

calling henry george ......

scrappy's picture

Right on!

The Corruption of Economics (Georgist Paradigm series) [Paperback]
Mason Gaffney (Author), Fred Harrison (Author)

After the Crash: Designing a Depression-free Economy

(Hint: Land is Key)

Gaffney's Latest

The Mason Gaffney Reader: Essays on Solving the "Unsolvable"



BLOTTO's picture

10 families = 33 million acres? thats cute.


Queen Lizz II = 6,600 million acres...

JailBanksters's picture

Difference is:

Lizzy never paid for it, she just said that's mine, Aha ha ha


Occident Mortal's picture

Malone owns 3,500 square miles?




Queen Elizabeth II owns 10,312,500 square miles of the 57,500,000 square miles of land on Earth. Which is about 20% of the planet.


Oh, and she's exempt from paying tax, but she voluntarily pays some taxes...


Obviously not inheritance tax though. Or any kind of tax on her wealth. She's not stupid.

BringOnTheAsteroid's picture

Those pesky Rothschild's fly under the radar again.

FEDbuster's picture

Most of this above land is cheap dirt in western states.  The real productive land (Rothschild land) is held in secret "land trusts" in midwestern farm states.  Big, old wealth families flying under the radar once again.

Son of Loki's picture

RE prices run in cycles of 10-12 year sunder normal conditions. The present heavily manipulated RE sector will eventually revert to the norm and I suspect that will be a painful time for property owners who are holding the "Hot Potato" when it corrects.

Golden_Rule's picture

If RE prices crash so will gold, if gold soars so will RE.  Granted I do think gold has less downside and more upside because gold was allowed to correct while RE was propped up.  But RE gives a current income (and future).  Only two bets to be made at this time I think, you're either betting on the dollar, or betting agianst the dollar.  As long as you don't use leverage, and as long as you make the right bet, you'll be rewarded in the end.

N2OJoe's picture

Leverage is why I expect RE will crash as the credit bubble implodes while physical gold moves in the opposite direction. Of course paper gold will simply cease to exist, further aiding in the rise of physical.

pavman's picture

You can't take land with you when you have to flee the country.  You can, however, carry gold quite succinctly.

DaveyJones's picture

  Many of the temples have professional canning equipment as well.

machineh's picture

My basement temple has professional caning equipment, to administer corporal punishment to deserving politicians.

erkme73's picture

I have many mormen neighbors, at least they know how to fuck productively...


There, fixed it for you.

rocker's picture

As of lately, don't forget Blackrock and all their acquired rentals since the depression started.

Occams_Chainsaw's picture

Them Mormon chicks like to get freaky....

chumbawamba's picture

I heard the Mormon chicks will take it in the butt to preserve their virginity for marriage.

Note: I am currently seeking a Mormon girlfriend.

I am Chumbawamba.

drunkenlout's picture

So will their brothers, Chumba.  Be careful out there in Park City.  

oncefired's picture

Scientologists have a bunch to

Budd aka Sidewinder's picture

The LDS church is the largest owner of farmland in the world

Peter Pan's picture

"One simple question, "are their property taxes per acre the same as mine?"

You have an acre?!!!!

Seriously though, of course not. The bulk of their land would not have houses sitting on it. If their rate per acre was taxed the same as your acre there would not be a farmer left in the USA.

zaphod's picture

The taxes per acre may be small, but for the number of acres these large owners hold it adds up. You require a consistent income stream to support ownership. 

In the last depression many large land owners finally gave up and sold large portions primarily due to taxes. 

o2sd's picture

The simple solution to that is to plant trees on fallow land. Lumber has outperformed every other asset class over a 100 year period.


Duke of Earl's picture

Don't be so sure, Michael Dell famously lowered his property taxes 99.8% in 2005.  I'd bet some people can do better nowadays.

Tim_'s picture

Fake Farms Owned by the Rich Provide Massive Tax Shelter

"All across the country, a huge number of America’s wealthiest are tapping into agricultural tax breaks—and none of them have to do any real farming to qualify."

"Take Michael Dell [jew], founder of Dell Computers and the second-richest Texan, who qualified for an agricultural property tax break on his sprawling 1,757-acre residential ranch in suburban Austin and saved over $1 million simply because his family and friends sometimes use the land as a private hunting preserve to shoot deer."

"The exemption is such a money-saver that it’s hard to find rich Texans who aren’t moonlighting as farmers on their estates, and that includes President George W. Bush. Bush has used the farm-tax dodge scheme on at least two properties in the last two decades."

obthedgehog's picture

Rules like that are hardly uncommon.  In NJ horse country, for example, larger parcels (say, 3-4 acres) can be taxed at the much lower farm rate if they can show ~$200/year in agricultural income.  That's a handful of Christmas trees, a few jars of preserves sold at a farmers market (and the ingredients don't even need to be produced on the property), or something like that.  Maybe it would be pushing it for you and you neighbor to report selling your lawn clippings to each other, but then again maybe not...

prains's picture

....combine a "winner take all" form of corporate "libertarianism" with crony captitalism and look what you get........


a whole lotta "isms" that the rest of us never get to use


edit: yes i know for some it's hard to reconcile corporatism with hard held beliefs about liberty but you just have to look at what's happening to understand the camo you've built for others

Ghordius's picture

+1 liberalism, taken to it's extremes, tends to favour the very big. add cronyism (a form of corruption), which in the current centralized US setup means it happens mostly in Washington D.C., and you have the current corporate regime, with their think tanks and legions of lobbyists

since libertarianism is a form of extreme liberalism, as in extreme liberal capitalism, it's the political heaven of the great corporations and aspiring great barons

now I would not mind how Americans care about their own political affairs if their megacorporations would not treat the whole rest of the world as their stamping ground

what I dislike is not the principles. it's their application. the results

obthedgehog's picture

Wrong.  Megacorps get that way because they can use government to leverage special privileges, the biggest of which is to hobble competition.  No government leads to no special advantages leds to more competition leads to less bigness.

Dasa Slooofoot's picture

Taxes?  They probably call it a farm and get subsidies.  

Wahooo's picture

Latifundia in the ole republica banana. What's that you say, you got no bananas?

pot_and_kettle's picture

I'm long torches and pitchforks.

fedupwhiteguy's picture

did i miss something in my 4th grade mathematics classroom? the header says 10 greedbags own 33 mil acres, but then the article proceeds to discuss 100 persons own 33 million acres. nice teaching moment.

bbkaren's picture

THANK you. It appears you and I are the only ones noticing this. I'd hate to think this was just an effort to promote class envy and cries of "INEQUALITY!!" Eat the rich!

DownByTheRiver's picture

Sorry, the Red Shields own what percentage??

kchrisc's picture

They own the most via debt feudalism. I.e. they own and control us through debt and therefore own and control all that we think that we own. They also own and control government, at all levels, and therefore own and control us via the ownership government extends over us with taxes and fees (“If you have to pay to have it, you don’t own it.”)


"The kings are dead, long live the guillotines."

john39's picture

and what about all that federal land out west...  who really owns that?  or should i say, for whom is it currently being held.

disabledvet's picture

good question. 2.27 billion acres "of which 20 percent is privately held." so that would be darn near 2 billion acres of land. "and homesteading is legal in Alaska." in other words the price of land can crash too...or "for the price of a Passport" (in other words do not give up US citizenship!) you could be simply gifted an acre.

RaceToTheBottom's picture

Gifted?  Gifted?  I am expecting my gift to be of debt......

kchrisc's picture

I don't know exactly, but the usual suspects comes to mind: China, Germany, Russia, Israel and Keyser Söze.

fedupwhiteguy's picture

That's my fear. That the feds will allow some environmental friendly (sarc) government, who holds our debt, to purchase (with treasury tokens) large tracts of land. I'd hate to have invested time & money in building up a sustainable farm only to have some dirty corporate (foreign) entity raping the property next to me. Cuz you know, what you do on your property doesn't always stay on your property. i.e., gmo pollen blowning onto your property, risidual air pollution drifting into your living room window, underground water supply contaminated by caustic chemical spills/abandoned mining operations....

kchrisc's picture

Based on what I know about property taxes and the latest water regs by the EPA, you don't own your property as it stands now.


"Firearms are the ultimate title to property."

NoDebt's picture

Where's the Catholic Church on that list?

Peter Pan's picture

Their kingdom is not of this world. LOL.