Here’s Who Owns the Most Land in America

Photo by Alexa Gaul on Unsplash

The 100 largest private landowners in the U.S. own 40 million acres—an area the size of Florida.

Jeff Bezos spent summers on his grandparents’ ranch in Texas as a kid, learning how to, among other things, castrate cattle.

Today he has his own spread in the Lone Star State, where his company Blue Origin tests its reusable New Shepard rocket. The world’s wealthiest person amassed the 420,000 acres over two decades to become the 26th-largest private landholder in the U.S.

He’s in rich company with a relatively new kind of landed gentry—billionaires including John Malone and Ted Turner—and with families whose ancestors purchased their parts of America generations ago. The 100 largest owners of private property in the U.S., newcomers and old-timers together, have 40 million acres, or approximately 2% of the country’s land mass, according to data from the Land Report and reporting by Bloomberg News. Ten years ago, the top 100 had fewer than 30 million acres.

It may not seem like much—all told, just about the size of Florida. But land is an often-overlooked repository of wealth, one of those quiet assets, such as artworks or trusts, that make up so much of the country’s unexamined riches as inequality widens.

The top 100 private landowners have property in 39 states for any number of purposes—investment, conservation, tax benefits or just the bragging rights that come with owning big pieces of America. This map shows approximately 35 million acres of their holdings, or 87% of the total, across 31 states, based on a Bloomberg analysis of local property records and data from Pitney Bowes and Acre Value.

The identities of the 100 largest private landowners and their respective acreage, per state where available, were provided by the Land Report from its most recent Land Report 10y the publication’s research team, is based on information secured from landowners and their representatives, published reports, offering memoranda, industry experts and online databases, including tax records.

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