Rev. Moon to auction off Texas ranch

San Antonio Express-News/April 25, 1999
By David Hendricks

One of Texas' more opulent ranches -- Crawford Farms -- is on the auction block again. The seller this time is the Rev. Sun Myung Moon of the Unification Church.

Near Carrizo Springs, 90 miles southwest of San Antonio, the ranch was auctioned for $8.1 million seven years ago after the original owner, entrepreneur Don Crawford, poured as much as $30 million into it during the early 1980s.

The winning bidder in 1992 was the Han Corp., a New York-based business that is part of Moon's global business empire. Han Corp. also owns a multimillion-dollar equestrian center in New Jersey.

The National Auction Group of Gadsden, Ala., will auction the 3,029-acre estate on May 4 on a no-minimum basis.

"They want someone in Texas to own the ranch," said William Bone, president of the National Auction Group. "The Rev. Moon said they don't use it much anymore."

The South Texas ranch had been used mainly as a family retreat during the past seven years. At times, Moon's business associates were invited to stay there, Bone said.

Moon visited the ranch about five times, but his children and grandchildren visited more often.

"The ranch was never a haven for a bunch of Moonies," Bone added. "The Rev. Moon enjoyed his visits. He loved it. They went down there and rode horses. One day he whispered in the ear of his son-in-law, James Park, `We ought to sell it. We don't use it anymore.' "

Bidders must first submit $100,000 in certified funds to qualify for bidding, down from $250,000 required in 1992 when there were 12 registered bidders.

"The Rev. Moon has no concern over price," said Bone, who was the auctioneer for the 1992 event.

"They said they want to have a big Texas party at the auction, like a big going-away party, just like Crawford did" in 1992, Bone said. "They even want to hire the same mariachi band."

The 1992 auction was patterned after Crawford's legendary parties at the ranch, including catered food, champagne and cocktails.

When the gavel closed after five minutes of bidding in 1992, Crawford quickly approached Park, who had placed the winning bid, and gave him a hug.

The price "was a little low," Crawford admitted then, adding, "But I'm going to fish anyway. I'm one of the fortunate ones not to lose this in foreclosure."

Crawford, 65, now lives on South Padre Island.

"According to the neighbors [of Crawford Farms], the owners never used it for anything. It's a strange deal," he said.

"Anyone looking for a good horse farm, this is the best for the money there is," Crawford said. He predicted the winning bidder on May 4 will get a bargain price.

"It was a real steal when I sold it."

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