Every year, the Telluride Film Festival (Sept. 2-5) transforms the Colorado mountain community of 2,500 into a hot spot for the movie biz, a far cry from the town's Wild West origins. After all, this was where Butch Cassidy committed his first bank robbery.
Hollywood also has long favored the ski town as a place for second homes. Telluride's vibe might be low-key, but the real estate is as elevated as its 13,000-foot alpine peaks. It's the state's most expensive city, with median sale prices at about $2 million this year, double the second-most-expensive city, Aspen.
A wave of recent listings showcases the market's tip-top end, with asking prices nearing $20 million. THR has learned that former NBC Sports chief Dick Ebersol and his wife, actress Susan Saint James, have put their house, located in the tony Mountain Village enclave, on the market. The seven-bedroom home, priced at $13 million -- they bought it for $10.4 million in 2004 -- includes a home theater.
In August, famous divorcee Roxanne Pulitzer listed her seven-bedroom Mountain Village property for $19.9 million. Purchased in 2001 for $4.9 million, it includes a 45-foot, full-scale replica of a labyrinth in Chartres, France.
Jerry and Jessica Seinfeld put their 11-bedroom, multi-building compound on the block in July for $18.25 million. The couple created the 26-acre estate from two properties bought for nearly $10 million in 2007 and 2008.
The high-end houses might not move fast -- many sit unsold. Producers Kathleen Kennedy and Frank Marshall's European chalet-style house, listed in December for $19.75 million, recently was reduced to $18.25 million. The nine-bedroom compound, created from three parcels bought around 1990, is being offered furnished.
Some sellers won't budge on price, according to local real estate expert Judi Kiernan of Telluride Consulting. She estimates that 50 percent of high-end buyers paid cash, meaning those owners aren't underwater on mortgages. "There is no motivation to discount the price," says Kiernan. In total, 24 single-family homes sold in the first seven months of 2011, compared with 33 in the 2010 period.
The real appeal of Telluride seems to lie in its remote location (there are no direct flights from L.A.), easygoing lifestyle and increasing draw as more than a ski destination. "The summers are, for us, more spectacular than the winters," says director Barry Sonnenfeld, a non-skier who has built a luge track on the property he purchased with his wife more than a decade ago.
Some call it the anti-Aspen. Case in point: Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes, who own a 210-acre ranch, spent the summer after their daughter Suri's birth hiking the trails surrounding Telluride. "They have their privacy," says Sotheby's broker Matthew Hintermeister, who has the Pulitzer listing. "No one photographs them as they walk down Main Street."
GOT $175 MILLION FOR A RANCH IN JACKSON HOLE? The top prices in Wyoming's exclusive ski destination easily outdo Telluride's
People come from California and get sticker shock," says John Pierce of Hall and Hall, the broker for what is believed to be the country's most expensive listing, the Jackson Land & Cattle ranch, which has a $175 million asking price. Located in Jackson Hole, Wyo. -- where Harrison Ford owns an 800-acre ranch and Sandra Bullock lives part time -- the 1,750-acre spread includes 35 buildable home sites and a 52-stall equestrian center. The property, owned by resort developer Richard Fields, went on the market in July. Not far away, the 1,848-acre Walton Ranch -- which has 3 miles of frontage on the Snake River and includes a three-bedroom house -- was recently listed for $100 million. The high prices, explains Ranch Marketing Associates' Billy Long, who represents the Walton Ranch, are driven by a tight market. "Ninety-seven percent of the land is composed of national parks and conservation easements. Only 3 percent is available for private ownership," he says. "The real estate is dear." -- Degen Pener