1:00pm

Fri November 18, 2011
Lexington/Richmond

Buyer of Mercer Farm Hardly an Aloof Billionaire

In the back of the Lexington Convention Center ballroom, the buzz early Wednesday afternoon was that a group of Amish farmers from Indiana were the ones bidding to buy all 5,529 acres of Anderson Circle Farm. The Amish contingent did indeed make a serious play to buy several parcels of the farm, but the one really driving the price was the giant of a man with white hair sitting at a bidder’s table in the center of the room. A young woman two tables away identified him as Jim Justice II and pulled up a Forbes profile of him on her iPad showing he was a West Virginia coal king, one of the 400 richest Americans with a net worth estimated at $1.1 billion. Justice finally scared off everybody else with back-to-back $500,000 raises that sealed the deal at $25 million. It was all his.