By Ann McCreary
The auction sale of Tice Ranch to the high bidder — a local couple — is off, according to a spokesperson for J.P. King Auction Company.
In an auction held Oct. 16, Robert and Laura Howson of Twisp were the high bidders on the property, and were announced by the auction company as the new owners of Tice Ranch.
The sale price was announced as $3.108 million for the ranch, an expansive 305-acre working ranch that served as a gathering place for international guests and celebrities.
“The Tice Ranch high bidder buyer did not go through,” said Stacy Smith of J.P. King Auction Company, an Alabama-based company specializing in high-end properties.
“However, there is a new buyer and the expectation is to close this purchase by the end of the year. That is all I know about the new transaction at this time, since this is a private transaction,” Smith said in an email on Tuesday (Nov. 18).
“I can’t comment on it,” Robert Howson said when contacted Tuesday.
After the auction, Howson told the Methow Valley News that he and his wife intended to live in the main lodge and continue to operate the property as a working ranch.
The ranch was auctioned with all furnishings and ranch equipment. The property includes a 15-bedroom, 20,000-square foot main lodge, furnished with turn-of-the century antique furniture from London.
The property also includes two smaller guest lodges, a caretaker’s residence, a swimming pool and Jacuzzi, horse stables, organic fruit orchards, a stocked fishing pond and 100 acres of irrigated hay fields.
A half-dozen prospective buyers registered and bid on the property during the auction.
The Tice Ranch property was purchased and developed in the 1970s by Diane and Lou Tice, founders of the Pacific Institute, a Seattle-based corporation specializing in leadership development. The ranch served as a corporate retreat and event venue, and hosted many concerts, national and international gatherings over the years.