My own private west


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Sitting Bull and Buffalo Bill

Go out toward the Raggeds Wilderness Area in Gunnison County and you'll find a ghost town. Kind of.

It's a real Old West outfit, complete with a saloon, church, livery and train station, but it's not open to the public. It's the playground of owner and Western enthusiast Bill Koch (brother to Charles and David Koch). He will soon build a 21,000-square-foot home nearby (the largest in the county), to overlook his little town. Koch owns four other properties in the state.

In an article released today by the Denver Post, "Wild Bill" Koch comes off as being all about collecting Western memorabilia:

He paid $2.3 million for a photograph of Billy the Kid at an auction last year. He bought out the Buckskin Joe Western town near CaƱon City for $3.1 million in 2010. He owns Jesse James' gun, Wyatt Earp's vest, Sitting Bull's rifle and a flag that belonged to Gen. George Custer.

He has more Charles Russell paintings and Frederic Remington bronzes than most museums.

In fact, he has crammed part of a museum with his collections this year. His Western art and artifacts were on display at the Society of the Four Arts at the Palm Beach Museum in Palm Beach, Fla.

Stories like these make me wonder what of mine a collector might splurge on one day in the future. That's certainly a more likely possibility than pondering what I might collect or what personal town (complete with its own water-treatment system!) I would build for myself. But I guess I'm just jealous.


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