Renowned Galisteo Basin ranch on market for $75M

The 20,000-acre ranch owned by designer and filmmaker Tom Ford was featured on the cover of Leading Estates of the World last month. Luis Sánchez Saturno/The New Mexican

Designer, filmmaker and part-time Santa Fe resident Tom Ford is selling his 20,000-acre ranch in the Galisteo Basin. And the asking price is said by a real estate insider to be a whopping $75 million.

It’s a one-of-a-kind property, one of the largest private holdings in the county. And its appearance on the market surprised some in the industry. “Seventy-five million dollars is a big ticket in New Mexico. We haven’t seen sales like that for a while,” said Dale Heinemann, a broker who specializes in ranch properties.

Designed by renowned Japanese architect Tadao Ando, Cerro Pelon Ranch includes a modern main residence that appears to float on reflecting pools, staff quarters, two private guest houses, the home of the ranch manager, as well as equestrian facilities, an airstrip and a Western movie town originally built as a set for the film Silverado in 1985.

A public announcement that the ranch was up for sale was made in the last month on the cover of Santa Fe Realtor Chris Webster’s publication, Leading Estates of the World. Photos of the property are also available on the website of broker Kevin Bobolsky at kevinbobolskygroup.com. But Bobolsky declined to comment on the private sale.

Ford, who is known for his high-end handbags, sunglasses, men’s suits and women’s couture, as well as for directing Colin Firth in A Single Man, owns high-end properties in a number of locations, including Santa Fe. Some of them have been featured in magazines. Cerro Pelon Ranch, for instance, appeared in French Vogue.

The designer added to his real estate holdings in May when he bought a $53 million estate in Beverly Hills, Calif. That seven-bedroom house on 3.2 acres was built for a silent film star in 1926 and sold to Thin Man actor William Powell, who transformed it from a Spanish mansion into a Regency-style residence. Ford purchased it from hotel developer Brad Korzen and designer Kelly Wearstler. One online site said he outbid Beyoncé and Jay Z.

The Cerro Pelon Ranch is located off N.M. 41 near the village of Galisteo. It was previously owned by Bill and Marian Cook, who began making it available as a film location in 1984. It was known until 2001 as the Cook Movie Ranch.

The ranch, which includes 16,000 deeded acres and 4,450 leased acres, is home to grass-fed cattle and horses, but most of the income comes from the film activities there. Among the notable movies shot on location at the site are Lonesome Dove, All the Pretty Horses, Cowboys and Aliens, Wild Wild West, 3:10 to Yuma, The Missing and Thor. The set was completely rebuilt after a pyrotechnical accident during the filming of Wild Wild West in 1999.

At the heart of the ranch is Cerro Pelon, a butte known locally as the Galisteo Wave. Petroglyphs, pictographs, pottery shards and Pueblo ruins can be found on the land, and the Galisteo River runs through the northern portion. Webster said an anthropologist from the Field Museum in Chicago once found a prehistoric eagle trap at the top of the mountain.

“The whole property’s fantastic,” he said, giving Ford the highest marks for its management. The world-famous designer’s focus, Webster said, is on the highest, the best, the most correct, with anything else being a waste.

Ted Harrison, founder and president of the Commonweal Conservancy, which works in the area on environmentally sensitive community development, said, “The Cerro Pelon Ranch is an extraordinary property. It is distinguished by lush savanna grasslands, dramatic topography and a rich cultural history. It’s a jewel that is perfectly set within the spectacularly beautiful Galisteo Basin.”

The property also has the cachet of a Japanese architect who favored modern lines, concrete walls and bold geometry. Ando is known for his work on the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Texas, and the Armani Teatro in Milan.

Local real estate agents said, however, that selling the property might not be so easy. There’s the price tag, of course. And many people looking for ranch land want “live water” and pine trees, Heinemann said.

Ranchers aren’t buying ranches anymore. And the Galisteo Basin, popular with rich hippies in the 1970s and ’80s, has lost its cool factor. Some say there are sellers with properties within 10 to 15 miles of Cerro Pelon who can’t find buyers, albeit with fewer amenities.

But, Webster said, “People that buy and sell properties like this are out there. Sometimes there are multiple bidders, sometimes it takes a while. But all these properties have appeal — the land, other resources, privacy, security, the ability to develop one’s dream.”

As Heinemann said, “Find me 20,000 acres 30 minutes from Santa Fe where you have total security. You can do just about anything you want and nobody’s looking over your shoulder.”

Contact Anne Constable at 986-3022 or aconstable@sfnewmexican.com.

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