Val Kilmer Sells Pecos River Ranch in New Mexico to Texas Gas Executive from Midland

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This is a sign the market MUST be coming alive, even in slow as molasses Santa Fe: Val Kilmer has finally sold most of his  5,328-acre Pecos River ranch.

The deed transfer was filed Sept. 30 with the San Miguel County Clerk’s Office. Kilmer transferred the bulk of the property to Midland residents Benjamin A. Strickling III and his wife, Roxann. There was no mortgage filed with the documents, according to San Miguel County Clerk Melanie Rivera, which means Strickling likely paid cash and bought about 141 acres.

This could be a transaction that was initiated last April. At the time, the Taos and Santa Fe attorney who handled the agreement, Ralph H. Scheuer, said a lot of “contingencies” had to be filled. No word yet on where Kilmer is going or whether he would even keep a home in Northern New Mexico. His ranch was originally put on the market in 2009 for $33 million, but was whittled way down to $18.5 million, believed to be the eventual purchase price.

The rather notorious property near San Ysidro has been a bed and breakfast and included rental cabins along some of the best trout waters of the Pecos River. The lodging rate was a reasonable $200 a night for one of the six bedrooms, each with its own private bath and kitchen, plus $65 an hour for guided horseback trips, $50 an hour for guided bike trips or hikes and $100 an hour for Jeep tours, according to the website.

Marketing information for the property indicated that it included six miles of river frontage, a 640-acre grazing lease on state land and a seven-bedroom ranch house with 8 1/2 bathrooms. It was once owned by Greer Garson and her husband, oilcatter and ranch man Buddy Fogelson, who of course donated funds for the Fogelson Center at Presbyterian Hospital of Dallas.

Seems like Sotheby’s has their fingerprints all over this sale, from Santa Fe agents Darlene Streit, Pam Sawyer and Bob Jacobs, to the buyer’s agent, Jim Overton.

So who is this Strickling? Owns “natural resource companies”  in Texas (i.e. natural gas)and used his business address in Midland, Texas, in the property transfer according to the Santa Fe New Mexican. Among his affiliations are Patriot Resources, Midmar Gas, First Patriot Oil and Gas, Delaware Basin Resources, as well as several land and cattle partnerships. He and his wife are the only two employees of Roxstar Investments, also of Midland, that reported annual sales of $170,000.

There had been some reports that Kilmer, who may not fit into the Batmobile so well these days, once wanted to run for governor of New Mexico. But then, he made some unfavorable comments about the area, including a quote in Rolling Stone magazine about how he lived in “the homicide capital of the Southwest, where 80 percent of the residents are drunk.” Kilmer later did, however, apologize. I trooped all over Santa Fe when I stayed at this great in-town fractional called The Residence Club at El Corazon de Santa Fe, right off the square, never felt safer. 

But those words came back to bite him in the you-know-what. When Kilmer went before the San Miguel County Commission for permission to open three guesthouses on the ranch, neighbors were miffed about what he said, and he almost lost the case.

But Kilmer, always the charmer, apologized for his words, and the commission approved his zoning request. His frankness caused quite a stir from the New Mexico chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, which offered to defend Kilmer’s First Amendment rights, to the California-based Committee on Chicano Rights. Even New Mexico governor Bill Richardson, dove in to the fray, though he didn’t think what Kilmer said was particularly good. Maybe he’ll move into town: Kilmer has been a fixture around Santa Fe lately and was named honorary chairman of the Santa Fe Film Festival last year

The Pecos River Ranch is about 22 miles northeast of Santa Fe, with wildlife, 10 natural springs, world-class fishing and more than 50 miles of hiking and biking on a beautiful trail system. The 10-bedroom, 10-bathroom home has 11,573 square feet.

The property was first listed by Orvis/Cushman Wakefield in 2009 for $33 million but did not sell. In July 2010, it was listed with Darlene Streit of Santa Fe Realty Partners.  It is also the only ranch around that has actual water frontage: a seven-mile stretch of the Pecos River, fishing nirvana. Last year, Kilmer told a local TV station that he put the ranch on the market to try and attract a biz partner. Local agents in the area had told me Kilmer was never really serious about selling, but I guess when a Texan rides in with $18 million in cash, you get serious real fast.

Like most things Santa Fe, there is an historical Dallas connection: When Buddy Fogelson died in 1987, the original 5,500-acre ranch, known as Forked Lightning, was willed to Greer Garson and the remaining acreage to his son, according to The New Mexican archives. The son later divided his property, selling one parcel to Val Kilmer and the other to Jane Fonda. In 1991, in failing health, Garson sold her part of the ranch to The Conservation Fund, which then donated it to the National Park Service. Garson died in 1996 in Dallas.