Tobacco mogul looks to part with over 500,000 acres of prime real estate

Brad Kelley has listed several ranches in New Mexico and Texas

Eagle Mountain and Carrizo Mountain ranches (Credit: King Land and Water; iStock)
Eagle Mountain and Carrizo Mountain ranches (Credit: King Land and Water; iStock)

Tobacco billionaire Brad Kelley is ready to sell a mass of land that spans the size of Rhode Island, and all he’s asking for is $500 million.

Kelley is listing a New Mexico ranch with around 50,000 contiguous acres for $96 million, according to the Wall Street Journal. Three months ago he listed a group of West Texas ranches totaling around 500,000 acres for $404 million.

Together, the properties total almost the size of the state of America’s smallest state and it’s only half of Kelley’s portfolio of land.

He’s spent millions of dollars amassing his portfolio and regularly ranks among the nation’s largest landowners. Last year he was considered the eighth-largest landowner in the country with 1.14 million acres of holdings.

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“[Land is] a nonperishable commodity and it’s as good a place as any to put my money,” Kelley told the Journal in 2012. “It’s better than derivatives.”

Kelley, a Kentuckian who rose to wealth in the discount tobacco business, sold his tobacco company Commonwealth Brands for $1 billion in 2001. He also owns a media company NC2 Media.

The New Mexico property, Dawson Elk Valley Ranch, sits around the Vermejo River and borders a ranch owned by Ted Turner, another one of the country’s largest landowners.

It’s largely undeveloped, but is considered prime hunting territory and unlike many large properties in the state, has no land leased from the state that could be opened to the public. Kelley said its mostly used by local cattle ranchers. [WSJ] — Dennis Lynch