Chinese Billionaire Joins Land Report 100

Chinese Billionaire Joins Land Report 100

By Eric O'Keefe

Photography By Qilai Shen/Bloomberg via Getty Images


Published On: January 8, 20242.9 min read
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Tianqiao Chen has been staring us straight in the face for almost a decade. In 2015, he acquired nearly 200,000 acres of former Crown Pacific timberlands in Oregon from Fidelity National Financial Ventures for $85 million ($430 per acre). Chen did so via the investment ­vehicle Whitefish Cascade Forest Resources LLC. In December 2023, Oregon tax records revealed that the 198,000-acre block is ­currently owned by Shanda Asset ­Management LLC.

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Shanda Group

The Shanda name has long been associated with Chen. In 1999, the Shanghai native founded Shanda Interactive Entertainment, a pioneer in China’s online gaming business. In 2004, Chen took Shanda Interactive public on the Nasdaq. Thanks to the successful IPO of SNDA, Shanda Interactive became the largest video game company in the world’s second-largest online market (after the US). According to the Shanda Group website, the company has had three subsidiaries listed on the Nasdaq and a fourth on the Kosdaq. In 2012, Chen took SNDA private. He also relocated his corporate headquarters from China to Singapore and established Shanda World as his primary vehicle for investments, including real estate.

Bull Springs Skyline Forest

Chen’s capitalist spirit is not limited to securities. In 2019, Robb Van Pelt of Mason Morse Ranch Company listed Bull Springs Skyline Forest, a 32,995-acre block of Shanda’s former Crown Pacific holdings that borders the Deschutes National Forest in Central Oregon. Located just minutes west of the burgeoning mountain town of Bend, the contiguous tract has long been recognized as a prime development opportunity, as well as a top conservation priority.

Managed for logging production for more than a century, Bull Springs is planted primarily in Ponderosa pine and includes 71,905 thousand board feet (MBF) of merchantable timber. Originally priced at $127 million ($3,800 per acre), the price of Bull Springs was subsequently reduced to $95 million ($2,800 per acre). A successful sale at anywhere near the current price of the 51-square-mile listing would recoup Chen’s entire expenditure for all 300 square miles of the Crown Pacific timberlands.

Landmark Holdings in Canada, Manhattan, and Los Angeles

In addition to his Oregon holdings, Chen owns approximately 500,000 acres of timberland in Ontario, Canada.

He has also purchased several landmark US properties. In 2018, he and his wife paid $39 million for the Vanderbilt Mansion on East 69th Street in Manhattan. Three years later, the Seeley Mudd Estate in the Los Angeles suburb of San Marino sold for $25 million to unnamed buyers who were later identified as Tianqiao and Chrissy Chen.

Built in 1934, the American Colonial-style mansion had served as the official residence of the presidents of the University of Southern California (USC) for more than four decades. From the Seeley Mudd Estate, the Chens have convenient access to the Tianqiao and Chrissy Chen Institute for Neuroscience at Caltech. They funded the institute with a $115 million charitable donation that included the construction of a three-story, 150,000-square-foot facility on the Caltech campus that was dedicated in 2021.

Located just west of Bend, Oregon, Chen’s 32,995-acre Bull Springs Skyline Forest is listed with Robb Van Pelt of Mason & Morse Ranch Company. The $95 million listing consists of less than 20 percent of Chen’s Oregon timberlands.

The Land Report 100 is our comprehensive survey of the nation’s leading landowners. View the full Land Report 100 here.

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