Wyly bankruptcy seeks $50 million Woody Creek ranch sale
The Aspen Times
Attorneys for Sam Wyly have asked a judge to allow the bankrupt Texas businessman to list his Woody Creek ranch for sale with a $50 million price tag.
The motion, filed Tuesday, seeks a judge’s permission to list the ranch for sale. Wyly has hired Craig Morris of Aspen Snowmass Sotheby’s International to market the property.
Known as Rosemary’s Circle R Ranch, the property cannot be developed into a subdivision or be turned into condominiums. The 244-acre swath of land, which Wyly bought through an LLC in October 1999, includes six homes. In 2014, it cost $790,000 to operate, according to the motion.
“To state the obvious, (Wyly) is unable to provide funding to operate and maintain the ranch,” the motion says.
The motion to sell the property was expected. Previous filings in the bankruptcy case suggested Wyly would be planning to put the ranch on the market. Wyly filed for bankruptcy Oct. 19, following a federal jury verdict that he and his brother Charles hid stock trades through offshore accounts, pocketing hundreds of millions of dollars.
Wyly’s bankruptcy says he owes $198 million to the Securities and Exchange Commission. And Feb. 26, a federal judge in Manhattan, New York, ruled that he pay that amount to the Securities and Exchange Commission.
In January, Wyly sold Explore Booksellers and Bistro, located on Main Street in Aspen, for $5 million to the Public Interest Network, a Denver-based nonprofit.
Wyly’s motion to sell his Woody Creek ranch touts Morris as the right person to market the ranch. The brokerage contract includes a maximum sales commission of 4.5 percent; Morris “is very well qualified to serve as lead agent,” the motion says. Morris declined comment for this story.
The motion also notes that proceeds from the sale also would include $100,000 to longtime ranch manager Jay Yeary, and another $100,000 to his wife Kristin, who is the ranch’s accounting manager. Or, the couple could collect 1 percent of the sale, whichever amount is greater, the motion says. The payment would be “in lieu of severance and as an incentive to stay on and continuously perform all of their duties,” the motion says. Without the payoff, the Yeary couple “may resign” from the ranch, and they are vital to its operations and keeping it in “show condition” when prospective buyers visit it.
Not having the cash flow to keep operating the ranch, Wyly would have to either sell the ranch at an auction or abandon it should the court not approve the Morris listing, the motion says.
“Such result would not be in anyone’s interest and certainly will not maximize the value of the ranch,” the motion says.
The Wyly brothers made a bulk of their money through Sterling Software, the arts-and-crafts retail chain Michaels Stores Inc. and other business ventures.
The $50 million listing would be half the amount of billionaire and GOP bankroller Bill Koch’s Elk Mountain Lodge property on Castle Creek Road. Morris also handles that listing, which shot up to $100 million earlier this year. Its original asking price was $89.9 million when it hit the market in June.
Another high-profile property, the Little Woody Creek Ranch, sold for $23.5 million in January. The Catto Charitable Foundation sold the 128-acre property, which had previously been owned by Henry Catto, who was once the U.S. ambassador to the United Kingdom. Catto died in 2011 at the age of 81 and conveyed the ranch, which has a main house and guest homes, to the foundation in 2009.
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