Billionaire Bill Koch builds private Old West town in Colorado

Eric Pfeiffer
The Sideshow

How does a billionaire with two politically active brothers and an Americas Cup title under his belt stand out? Bill Koch may have found the answer after building his own private Old West town in Colorado.

The Denver Post reports the town, located in Kebler Pass, has a saloon, church, jail and train station among its 50 or so buildings spread out over 420 acres. The roughly 10-square-mile property is located about 125 miles southwest of Denver.

And when the town's construction is complete, Koch will have his own mansion on a hill, overlooking the whole thing.

"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," Ramon Reed, chairman of the Gunnison County Planning Commission, told the paper.

Still, as impressive as the simulated Old West town is, Koch, 72, isn't interested in showing off his investment to the public. Instead, security guards stand in front of a locked gate to the town, making anyone not approved by Koch (whose personal fortune Forbes recently estimated to be in the range of $4 billion) a trespasser.

Koch brothers, David and Charles, are well known in political circles for funding a number of conservative causes. And while Bill Koch has donated to political candidates, including Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, he is not nearly as high profile a figure as his siblings. In fact, Bill Koch sued his siblings in 2001 for a greater stake of the family fortune, which he largely appears to be spending on nonpolitical ventures.

The creation of this town is a departure from another recent high-profile real estate purchase. In June, Oracle CEO Larry Ellison purchased the Hawaiian island of Lanai for a reported $500-$600 million. However, that location is open to the public and is home to around 3,200 residents.

While he has refused to comment directly on the Old West creation, Koch did disclose in a 2011 interview with Fine Art Notebook, "I shouldn't tell you this, but I am building my own Western town in Colorado."

In the same interview, he joked that his wife has suggested he appear on an episode of the television show "Hoarders," in response to his ever-growing collection of expensive Western memorabilia, which includes items once belonging to Billy the Kid, Wyatt Earp and Jesse James.