Instead of taking his wife’s advice and going on “Hoarders,” Bill Koch decided to build his own town to store his Western memorabilia—because that’s what billionaires do.
A passionate collector of art and wine, Koch shared his artifacts and art at the exhibition “Recapturing the West: The Collection of William I. Koch.” The collection was housed at The Society of the Four Arts in Palm Beach, Fla. When asked where the collection would go after the exhibit closed in April, Koch said to a Fine Art Notebook reporter: “I shouldn’t tell you this, but I am building my own Western town in Colorado.”
It sits on a 420-acre meadow on his Bear Ranch below the Raggeds Wilderness Area in Gunnison County. It's an unpopulated, faux Western town that might boggle the mind of anyone who ever had a playhouse. Koch's project manager has told county officials that the enclave in the middle of the 6,400-acre Bear Ranch won't ever be open to the public. It is simply for Koch's amusement and for that of his family and friends — and historians.
Lofholm quotes the chairman of the Gunnison County Planning Commission, “It's the kind of stuff I guess you would expect a billionaire to construct. It's like something out of a 'Gunsmoke' movie set.”
Some 50 buildings comprise the town, including a saloon, a church, a jail, a train station, and Koch’s estimated 21,000-square-foot mansion. The house will be the largest in Gunnison County, Lofholm says.
The eccentric billionaire is sometimes referred to as “Wild Bill,” for his love of Western culture, which he attributes to working on his father’s farm as a young boy. Living in the shadow of his media-darling twin brother David also earned him the nickname the “other” Koch. This latest endeavor into the Wild West will surely earn Bill a new nickname or two—and his own place on the map.