The story of real estate over the past several years has been one of rapidly skyrocketing prices. Seemingly every home on the market has jumped in value since 2019. But there is at least one property whose price has actually fallen since it was first listed back in 2017—Mesa Vista Ranch, the 65,000-acre Panhandle property that belonged to oil billionaire T. Boone Pickens until his death in 2019, was re-listed this week at an $80 million discount from its initial price. Back when Pickens first put the ranch on the market, it would have cost you a cool quarter of a billion dollars to call home—but now, at a mere $170 million, it exists not just as a sprawling mega-mansion on a property that stretches across one hundred miles of Texas ground, but also as a beacon of hope to weary prospective home buyers who have spent years watching as prices shoot to the moon in bidding wars.
Or not! We’ll admit that whatever is happening with the Mesa Vista Ranch—which five years ago was among the most expensive properties ever listed in the U.S.—offers no reflection of the actual real estate market, existing as it does in a dimension that the mega-rich enjoy all unto themselves. But still: what a dimension it is! Pickens filled his property with amenities that serve as a testament to the fact that when you’ve got the kind of money he amassed, you really can create an entire world for yourself.
But would we want to live in the world Pickens built? Some of the features of the Mesa Vista Ranch, which is near Pampa, would attract anyone who enjoys style and comfort, while others are rather more idiosyncratic flourishes. In order to suss out whether we would want to acquire the property (in the event that we hit the Powerball jackpot several times in a row), we ranked some of the estate’s most distinctive amenities, from the least worthy of the combined incomes of five thousand average Texans to the most impressive no matter how many yachts you own.
12. Pickens’s Childhood Home
Sometime around 2009, Pickens had the house he grew up in relocated, in full, from its original location to Mesa Vista Ranch. It is a neat sentimental touch! We’d maybe consider doing that with our childhood homes, if we had T. Boone Pickens’s money. Or maybe not; it’s kind of weird. The point is moot, however, since we don’t have his money, and we also don’t have any sentimental attachment to this pretty ordinary Depression-era house that somebody else grew up in—even if it does have the original sidewalk transplanted with it. This is the sort of kooky behavior we are mostly in favor of billionaires engaging in for fun, but it does not really add much to our assessment of the Mesa Vista Ranch. There’s an old house on it that used to be in Oklahoma! Sorry to this house, but that’s barely an amenity.
11. A 40-Unit Dog Kennel With a Bronze Sculpture of a Dog in Front of It
If you have a ranch this size, definitely get a dog. Does the pup know it’s a billionaire? No, it just knows that life is good, and that is what all dogs want. What a lucky lil’ guy it will be! However: forty is too many dogs for one person, and that’s why we aren’t particularly fond of this amenity. Man’s ability to love, and to keep loving, is one of the most remarkable things about our species, but at some point—probably around five or six?—we fear that the dogs would stop being members of the family and start becoming commodities. We would forget most of their names, forget their personalities, forget where they like to be skritched, and eventually just pick a dog or two as our favorites, and then what’s the point of having all the other dogs? It makes us sad, and if there’s one thing we would seek to accomplish by purchasing a $170 million ranch, it is staving off sadness—not opening ourselves up to more existential dread.
10. The Chapel and Memory Garden
The chapel is a lovely space—a tasteful, peaceful-looking stone building overlooking a lake, with a beautiful open-air structure nearby. But the point of a chapel, as we see it, is to gather in community, not so much to have your own private space on your big ol’ ranch to attempt to have a spiritual experience. The memory garden fares better—spirituality is both communal and personal, and looking at the majesty of nature in a space designed to facilitate reflection seems legit—but building a whole big chapel on your private property seems like a contradiction.
9. The Golf Course
If you’re into golf, this is probably pretty sweet. Most of what we know about how the extraordinarily wealthy do their business comes from Succession, and we can imagine that Logan Roy would have a golf course on one of his properties. “Come out to the ranch, we’ll play a few holes and iron out the details,” he’d say, before telling whatever poor sap he was about to stab in the back to f— off, he just took their company and they get nothing! Boo-hoo, take it up with your lawyer! We do not want to live a life where this is something we need, so it’s not a big selling point on our end.
8. The Gun Room
This is just a four-hundred-square-foot house where Pickens kept his guns. Lots of good hunting over those 65,000 acres, so this seems practical.
7. The Movie Theater
Pickens’s personal residence within the ranch compound was the Lake House, a twelve-thousand-square-foot mansion with another four thousand square feet of porches and balconies. One of the rooms in the house is a movie theater with tiered seating that includes what looks like at least 24 recliners. This is good, but it’s also kind of a run-of-the-mill mansion thing now—every NBA player has one of these—which is why it’s not higher up on the list.
6. Bing Crosby’s Old Front Door
Let us pause for a moment to appreciate this detail from the real estate agent’s description of the property: “The front entry door was originally the front door to Bing Crosby’s home.”
Bing Crosby, the forties crooner whose performances of a number of Christmas classics are still their definitive renditions, had a home of historical significance unto itself. Legend has it that his mansion in California’s Coachella Valley was the site of the 1962 tryst between JFK and Marilyn Monroe! That’s neat. Was Crosby otherwise known for his architectural acumen or his gift for picking out the best front doors? Not really. But we are charmed by this detail. We suspect that Pickens, a child of the Depression who grew up with Crosby’s music, would have found irresistible the opportunity to pick up an artifact that once belonged to an icon from his childhood, and the fact that a particular part of possibly apocryphal American history took place behind the door adds some appeal even among those for whom the legendary crooner is just some guy with the same name as their second-favorite search engine.
5. The Library
Pickens’s library features a number of plush reading chairs and a fireplace, for maximum coziness. What shall you pick out to read? It’s up to you, but you won’t be wanting for options: the library is a two-story affair, with an ornate wooden spiral staircase. It’s every bookish indoor kid’s dream come true.
4. This Big Ol’ Pile of Antlers
What’s up with this big ol’ pile of antlers? The beasts to whom they belonged surely roamed the ranch until they were brought low by Pickens and/or his buddies. Does the pile of antlers come with the property? We’d have to assume so, seeing as a photo of the pile has been included in the real estate listing, and it appears to be in the center of a rudimentary structure of some sort. If you are purchasing a billionaire’s ranch, you definitely want to pick up a little mystery as part of the deal, and so we are very much in favor of this stack of antlers that appears to have been placed in this spot deliberately, and photographed as if to say “look at all these antlers!”
3. The Pub
Here’s what you get with the pub: 2,250 square feet in more than two stories, including two game rooms. Is the pub on your property a single story with just one game room? Bet you’re pretty embarrassed right now.
2. The Airport
Right, like you bought a $170 million ranch so you could fly back home to a commercial airport after jet-setting around the world.
1. The Pilot’s Apartment
The two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment next to the airport for the pilot is the sort of thoughtful touch that separates a billionaire–slash–man of the people like Pickens from your ordinary out-of-touch elite. Every billionaire whose pilots don’t have their own on-site apartment should be ashamed.