The 25 Biggest Landowners in America

The 25 Biggest Landowners in America

October 1, 2023

Spanning nearly 3.8 million square miles, the United States is the third largest country in the world by land area. Still, land is a commodity with a fundamentally fixed supply, and demand for it will likely only continue to grow. As such, real estate is often seen as both a safe and profitable investment.

The average value of an acre of farmland in the United States spiked by 82% between 2009 and 2022, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Over roughly the same period, the median sale price of homes and residential properties in the U.S. surged by 124%, according to the U.S. Census Bureau and Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Perhaps not surprisingly, many of those who can afford to are buying up land across the United States. While the federal government is the largest landowner in the U.S., with a reported 640 million acres, there are also millions of acres that are privately owned by just a handful of individuals and families. In contrast to the federal government, which ostensibly acquires land for the public good, these private landowners are beholden to no interests but their own. (Here is a look at the foreign governments that own the most American land.)

Using data compiled by the individual retirement account firm Madison Trust Company in its report Who Owns the Most Land in the United States, 24/7 Wall St. identified the top private landowners in the United States. The 25 individuals and families on this list are ranked by the total acres of land they own. Leased land was not considered.

The individuals and families on this list own a combined 24.3 million acres, larger than the size of several states, including Indiana, Maine, and South Carolina. Much of the land owned by the people on this list is used for business enterprises, including agriculture, lumber production, and ranching.

The largest landowners in the U.S. include heirs to family fortunes and successful business entrepreneurs. Some of them rank among the wealthiest people in the world. According to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, who owns a reported 420,000 acres in Texas, is worth $122 billion, making him the third richest person in the world. Thomas Peterfly, who owns 581,000 acres in Georgia and Florida, founded the electronic trading platform Interactive Brokers and is worth $27.1 billion, making him the 49th richest person in the world. (Here is a look at the richest American in every state.)

Click here to see which people own the most land in America.

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