A West German company with substantial land holdings in the United States apparently is going to acquire the sprawling Big Sky movie ranch in the San Fernando Valley for $35 million, officials said Friday.
The 6,711-acre ranch, the biggest movie ranch in the country, has been the setting for a number of films and television programs, including "The Thornbirds" and the series "Gunsmoke," "Little House on the Prairie," "Father Murphy" and "Rawhide."
The ranch was going to be auctioned off next month unless acceptable bids came in beforehand.
The offer from the West German concern was received Monday and escrow instructions for the deal have been drawn up and are awaiting final approval, said Nathan Wolfstein, whose company is handling the sale.
Wolfstein, vice president of Los Angeles-based Larry Latham Auctioneers, declined to identify the West German company but said its offer was "far and away better than four other bids we received" because it is for cash and isn't contingent on any conditions.
The other bids ranged from $25 million to $31 million.
The property is now owned by Santa Monica-based Watt Enterprises and a group of partners who acquired it in 1982 for an undisclosed price.