Ranch brings $6.5 million

San Antonio Express-News/May 10, 1999
By David Hendricks

Carrizo Springs, Texas -- A Houston hospital executive last week agreed to pay $6.5 million for one of the most opulent ranches in Texas, acquiring the sprawling South Texas property from a company owned by the Rev. Sun Myung Moon.

The bidding lasted only seven minutes, with Charles Veldekens of Houston topping Gil Hodges of San Antonio, who bid $6.05 million for Crawford Farms.

The seller of the 3,029-acre ranch outside Carrizo Springs was the New York-based C.F. Han Corp., owned by Moon, who is also leader of the Unification Church.

The Han Corp. bought the trophy ranch in 1992 for $8.1 million when it was auctioned by the original owner and builder, Don Crawford. Crawford spent as much as $32 million to develop the property in the early 1980s.

Over the past seven years, the Han Corp. had financed the property through Crawford, who held a first-position lien. About $4 million remained as a balance.

Moon was not present at the auction, but his son-in-law, businessman James Park, was. He declined to be interviewed.

National Auction Group President William Bone said the property was used by Moon, his children and grandchildren as a horseback-riding retreat.

Moon's Unification Church is known worldwide for its legions of members and for ceremonies to wed hundreds or thousands of couples at one time.

The auction attracted 18 bidders, six more than the 1992 auction, when Moon's company bought it. The ranch attracted attention because of its football field-sized, Spanish-style main home; its large horse-show barn/arena with a saloon; numerous guest homes; bass lakes and other amenities.

The auction was held in the cavernous den of the main home. Bidding started at $4 million.

The final sales price in the contract will be $6.5 million, with the auction company getting a 7.5-percent sales fee. The sale is expected to close by June 3.

Veldekens, 59, is chief executive of Doctors Hospital-Tidwell in Houston. His wife, Ashley Veldekens, is a physical therapist. They have three children.

"I want my kids close to me," Veldekens said after placing the winning bid.

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