Stanley Marsh 3 dies; quirky philanthropist backed Cadillac Ranch

Stanley Marsh III, shown here leaning leans on one of the 10 Cadillacs buried down on his ranch west of Amarillo, Texas, has died.
(Evans Caglage / Dallas Morning News)

Stanley Marsh 3, a quirky philanthropist best known for funding the creation of the famed Cadillac Ranch in Texas, died Tuesday afternoon, his longtime attorney said. He was 76.

Marsh had been hospitalized for weeks with “various health issues,” his attorney, Kelly Utsinger, told the Los Angeles Times.

“I’m saddened that he passed away,” Utsinger said. “The family, the community, most people appreciated the works of art that he did.”

At Cadillac Ranch, outside Amarillo, 10 of the vehicles, brightly painted and buried nose-down along a Panhandle highway, show the evolution of the car over time. Marsh also funded other art projects in the Lubbock County area.


Utsinger said Cadillac Ranch would remain as it is. The land on which it is built is owned by a trust, and the display itself is in the care of Ant Farm, the company Marsh commissioned to create it in the 1970s.

“It will continue, nothing will be done to it at all,” Utsinger said.

Marsh had become ensnared in legal troubles in recent years and was the subject of several lawsuits that accused him of paying underage boys to perform sex acts. A warrant for his arrest was issued in November 2012.

Ten civil suits were settled in 2013, but the terms of the settlement were not made public. An additional 10 lawsuits were filed in late 2013, according to Utsinger, who said a judge yesterday ordered the names of the plaintiffs in those cases to be made public.

“It’s kind of unfortunate that ironically, just yesterday, these men who are suing him finally revealed their names so they could no longer hide behind the synonyms they were using,” Utsinger said. “I just wish Stanley was around to tell his story.”

The status of those lawsuits after Marsh’s death was not immediately clear. Marsh is survived by Gwendolyn, his wife of more than 40 years, five children and at least 10 grandchildren, Utsinger said. The attorney declined to comment on an exact cause of death or say why Marsh was hospitalized weeks ago, but he did say Marsh’s passing was “natural.”

“Given his age, the older you get the more issues you have, and it was just a number of different factors,” Utsinger said.

Marsh had the vehicles at Cadillac Ranch refurbished in the 1990s for a car commercial, but he joked that he preferred the cars in their original broken-down state.

“All that graffiti and vandalism gave them a real patina, like those Chinese vases that increase in value with each crack,” Marsh told a Texas magazine in 1990. “It shows people love their monuments.”

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