Monopoly houses
Monopoly houses (Images Of Money/Flickr)

Let’s Not Make a Deal

Four Colorado transactions that put Tom Chapman on the map

Monopoly houses
Kelley McMillan

Realtor Tom Chapman‘s practice of collecting wilderness inholdings and using the threat of development to force the government and conservation groups to buy him out has made him a controversial figure in his native Colorado. These four deals are among his most notorious.

More on Tom Chapman

Read our January 2012 feature, Backcountry Monopoly.

West Elks Parcels
240 acres of wilderness near Paonia

The Buy: Chapman’s client Bob Minerich paid $240,000 for the parcels in 1989; Chapman and other investors bought him out for $960,000 in 1992.

The Threat: Chapman said he’d build a ridgetop mansion.
The Sell: In 1994, he swapped the land for 118 acres near Telluride, then unloaded them a year later for $4.2 million.

Yankee Girl Mine
23 acres atop Red Mountain Pass, including the headframe of a historic silver mine.
The Buy: Another client, Jim Kropp, paid $205,000 for the acreage in 2005.

The Threat: Chapman and Kropp claimed they’d burn down the landmark.
The Sell: Montrose businessman Mark Young paid $246,225 in 2006 to save it.

Black Canyon National Park
112 acres along the rim of Black Canyon

The Buy: Chapman paid $240,000 for the land in November 1998.
The Threat: Chapman said he’d build a mansion on the canyon rim.

The Sell: He completed the house in 2010 and has it listed for $12 million.

Bear Creek Mining Claim
121 acres near Telluride
The Buy: Chapman and Ron Curry paid $246,000 in 2010, ahead of a proposed ski-resort boundary expansion.
The Threat: Chapman cut off skiers from Bear Creek and has said he intends to plow an old mining road up the front of Telluride Mountain Resort.
The Sell: To be determined.

From Outside Magazine, April/May 2021 Lead Photo: Images Of Money/Flickr