In November 2017, T. Boone Pickens Jr. publicly announced he was seeking a buyer for his prized Texas ranch, a vast swath of land encompassing nearly 100 square miles that he began accumulating in the late 1970s. As the oil magnate and businessman, who turns 90 in May, considers his legacy, he has expressed interest in passing on the property to a person or entity whose conservation ethic aligns with his own.
What began as a rather modest 3,000-acre patch of land grew to its present size of 65,000 acres as Pickens acquired the surrounding land parcels over the past four decades. The land is teeming with wildlife, including quail, antelope, and white-tailed deer. The property boasts a 30,000-sq.-ft. main lodge appointed with exquisite details, including hand-carved wood paneling. A picturesque European villa–inspired lake house rises up from the fertile ground, as streams flow underneath and spill into a vast lake and aqueduct that Pickens had built into the landscape. Naturally rich in fossil fuels, the land is also dotted with a few productive oil wells.
Pickens made his fortune in oil, founding Mesa Petroleum in 1981, which soon became the largest global independent oil company of its day. A bold negotiator, he acquired other oil and gas companies by making solicited and unsolicited buyout bids. He sold the company in 1996 and founded BP Capital Management the following year. Over the course of his life, he has donated more than $1B to charity. A member of The Giving Pledge, Pickens intends proceeds from the sale to benefit his T. Boone Pickens Foundation, which supports various charitable organizations.
Growing up in Holdenville, Oklahoma, I once walked five miles from town down to the Canadian River—and back—to earn a Boy Scout Merit Badge.
Today, some 80 years later, that very same river remains a prominent part of my life. It forms the northern boundary of my picturesque 65,000-acre Mesa Vista Ranch in the northeast corner of the Texas Panhandle. The ranch’s name commemorates the stunning mesa views to the north that mark the southern edge of the Great Plains.
Years ago, at a high school commencement speech for my grandson, I offered to trade the Mesa Vista (and my jet and billion-dollar bank account) for their place as graduating seniors with a lifetime of dreams and accomplishments to come.
Today, however, trading my ranch is off the table. Selling it is not. I’m officially putting it on the market. Asking price: $250M.
Perhaps you know of the ranch as it’s been profiled in Architectural Digest, The Land Report, and countless other publications and newspapers. It’s known for its tranquil rolling hills, wildlife habitat, quail hunting, and amazing architecture.
Selling the ranch is the prudent thing for an 89-year-old man to do. It’s time to get my life and my affairs in order. There are many reasons why the time is right to sell the ranch now, not the least of them being ensuring that what I truly believe is one of the most magnificent properties in the world winds up with an individual or entity that shares my conservation ethic.
Reflecting back, one of my keys to success has been the ability to accept and embrace change. This has been especially true in the fourth quarter of my life. Several years ago, my longtime doctor said he had “good news and bad news” for me. “Shoot straight,” I told him. “Well, the good news is you will live to be 116. The bad news is you won’t be able to hear or see,” he said. “Hell, I’m already there,” I countered.
Slowly but inevitably, my fading vision and limited hearing have forced me to give up things I’ve loved and excelled at—golf and hunting, in particular. Although the beauty of Mesa Vista remains intact, the ranch roads I have driven thousands of times are now blurred. It’s time to embrace and accept that my life has changed.
My hopes for the Mesa Vista and my plans for its future remain as vivid as they were when I began assembling the ranch 46 years ago. I initiated a multi-decade program to help the land heal and, over time, invested millions in wildlife management, programs, and facilities to create what many believe is the best quail hunting in the world. We have minimal cattle grazing on the ranch, preferring instead to let the land revert to pristine prairie conditions, much as it has been in centuries past. A substantial portion of the ranch has not been grazed in more than 20 years.
And Mesa Vista is water rich, with miles of creeks and nearly 20 lakes of varying size that we constructed over the course of 20 miles.
We invested heavily in accommodations, too, with a spectacular Lake House (12,000 sq. ft. of living space with 4,000 sq. ft. of porches); The Lodge (33,000 sq. ft. under roof); the Family House (6,000 sq. ft.); The Gate House (1,700 sq. ft.); The Pub (1,600 sq. ft.); and The Kennel (12,000 sq. ft., with space for 50 dogs). On top of that, we built a 6,000-foot runway and hangar (25,000 sq. ft.).
Moreover, there’s a stunning chapel with a glorious view of the mesas that has seen marriages and, sadly, funerals. There’s also housing for staff scattered across the ranch. Some of the numbers associated with the ranch are stunning. For example, semi-trailer trucks delivered nearly 16,500 loads of materials to help construct the buildings. And I’ve personally directed the placement—or replacement—of 20,000-plus trees.
Mesa Vista’s unique combination of a pristine prairie and world-class amenities have provided an unparalleled venue for some of the nation’s most influential political and business leaders to share their insights on matters critical to our times—national security, economic policy, political involvement, philanthropic investment, and energy issues.
The Mesa Vista has been a labor of love that has occupied the better part of my life. And I intend for a lot more good to come from the sale of the ranch. My charitable giving exceeds $1B, and much of the proceeds from the sale of the Mesa Vista will be directed to The T. Boone Pickens Foundation to fund a variety of philanthropic charitable commitments.
I see this sale as a new beginning—for the Mesa Vista’s new owners and for the recipients of my charitable giving.