Celebrities Tire of Home on the Range

Troy McMullen writes in the Wall Street Journal today about the fade of the celebrity ranch, that’s put a whole slew of these large properties on the market.

“A decade or so after big names in entertainment, sports and business turned the rugged ranch into a real-estate fashion statement, many of them are packing up the wagon trains and pulling back out.

Actor Rick Schroder is offering nearly 15,000 acres of ranch land in Colorado for $29 million. Val Kilmer just listed his 1,800 acres in New Mexico for $18 million. Leon Hirsch, former chairman of U.S. Surgical, is selling his 17,000-acre Montana spread for $21.9 million (cows included).

For the first few years he owned the property, Don Lucas, a venture capitalist in Atherton, Calif. visited most weekends, flying in his private jet to Dillon, 35 miles away. He rode horses and fished, and cut down his own Christmas trees.

But Mr. Lucas says sometimes the 6,150-acre ranch could be a bit too out of the way. Mail could take a week to arrive, newspapers would get dumped at the property’s entrance a day late, and the commute could be taxing. “Sometimes you’d have to fly in your friends just to have people around,” says Mr. Lucas, age 75.

For some who’ve made their second or third home on the range, ranch life has turned out to be anything but simple. Yearly maintenance costs can run $150,000 and up. The remoteness and roughing-it that once seemed so alluring can get tiresome.

“They want second or third homes with lots of amenities and good cell service,” says Jerry Ricordati, a real-estate broker at Baird & Warner in Chicago. “They don’t want to freeze their butts off roping steer or bailing hay.”