Hollywood movie mogul Peter Guber sold his Mandalay Ranch for $46 million Tuesday, shattering the local record price for a residential real estate sale and ranking among the top three in the country, according to real estate experts.
The ranch outside Snowmass Village in the Owl Creek Valley was sold to Dawn and Roland Arnall.
Guber, a movie producer best known for "Rainman" and "Batman," was asking $63 million for the 650-acre spread located between the Snowmass and Buttermilk ski areas. Nevertheless, he wasn't disappointed by selling for about three quarters of that amount, according to Robert Ritchie, the listing broker.
"Everybody's pleased. We've got a happy buyer and a happy seller," said Ritchie. The Arnalls were represented by real estate agent Joshua Saslove.
Ritchie called Mandalay Ranch one of the trophies of the Roaring Fork Valley and possibly the entire western United States.
"It is the only place in North America that spans from one ski area to another," he noted. The sale included a snowcat to transport skiers to the ski areas and around the property. It's an Italian machine that seats eight comfortably and travels at 45 mph, according to Ritchie.
"It rides like a Mercedes," he said. "That's how we show the property in the winter."
Although other private property separates Mandalay Ranch from the ski areas, there are easements that allow access for the snowcat to West Buttermilk and the Two Creeks area of Snowmass, Ritchie said.
As secluded as Montana
The other big selling point of the ranch is it's so close to the Pitkin County Airport yet shielded from the noise of airplanes. And while it's only a 10-minute drive from downtown Aspen, it's also secluded. "You might as well be in northern Wyoming or Montana," said Ritchie.
The ranch comes with a 15,000-square-foot house that has seven bedrooms and 7 1/2 bathrooms. It's a given, since a Hollywood movie producer built it, that it has an awesome home theater. The home also has an indoor gym and basketball court.
There are two guest cabins on the property, one overlooking a waterfall. The barn also has living quarters.
Ritchie said the previous record-high sale for residential property around Aspen was the Braun Ranch. That Woody Creek spread sold for $23 million. Ritchie was the listing broker. The "Peak House" on Red Mountain sold for an estimated $22 million.
Ritchie said officials at Sotheby's International Realty told him the Mandalay sale was the second or third largest residential real estate transaction in the history of the country. The ranking is difficult to judge because one other big sale was a private deal involving land swaps.
Some of Mandalay Ranch is visible from Owl Creek Road. It's known for white fences stretching to the horizon, lush pastures and hillsides thick with aspen trees.
The Pitkin County wildlife biologist and game wardens with the Colorado Division of Wildlife have said the property is a vital migration corridor for the Maroon Bells elk herd, which travels from the high ground and lower territory downvalley from Snowmass Village in the fall.
No plans for development
The Arnalls said in a prepared statement that they will maintain the wildlife corridors and continue to allow access to cross-country skiing trails on the property.
The western side of the ranch is divided into 12 lots of at least 35 acres, but change isn't imminent.
"They have no plans at this time for any development," said Saslove.
The Arnalls have had a home in Aspen "for a few years," Saslove said. The telephone book indicates they have a home on Red Mountain. The press release said the Arnalls have "a long history of philanthropy to nonprofit organizations that support wildlife protection, education, medical research, civil and human rights, children's issues, the arts and civic causes."
Guber owned Mandalay for 18 years. Some of that time appeared to be bittersweet. He received a public relations black eye in 1992 when Pitkin County took action against him for building illegal structures in sensitive wildlife habitat. Guber agreed to tear down a barn, and the county commissioners in office at the time allowed him to apply to legalize two cabins.
While negotiating a settlement to that dispute, the Guber family suggested to Pitkin County officials that they might grant conservation easements to prohibit development on 613 acres of the ranch. The easements were never granted, leaving some former county officials feeling they were betrayed.
The ranch received more publicity of a somewhat dubious kind in October 1995, when Dan Kitchen was arrested for using a saw to cut a hole in Guber's fence. Kitchen decided civil disobedience was needed to protest fences that he claimed didn't allow elk to pass through. Kitchen complimented Mandalay recently for elk-friendly fences
[Scott Condon's e-mail address is email@example.com]