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Grant's Farm sale continues through legal process

Billy Busch enters the court building to attend a hearing on the sale of Grant's Farm
Willis Ryder Arnold | St. Louis Public Radio
Billy Busch enters the court building to attend a hearing on the sale of Grant's Farm

Five of six Busch siblings were in court Tuesday over the potential $26 million sale of Grant’s Farm from the Busch Family Trust.

Billy Busch has offered to buy Grant's Farm. His siblings, Gertrude Busch Valentine, Peter W. Busch, Andrew D. Busch, and Beatrice Busch von Gontard, have made a competing offer. Yet, in court the family sat on the same bench.

Each side insists its plan is the best to ensure the property’s future.

“We want to continue running Grant’s Farm with Anheuser-Busch. More of us involved will make sure that Grant’s Farm can go on for a long, long time,” Trudy Busch Valentine said.

Billy Busch said his plan would run the property alongside his Kraftig Brewing business and would improve current physical conditions, develop new exhibits and add a brewery to the property. He also says he has a connection to the city that his siblings lack.

"I'm the only one with a business model at this time. I live in St. Louis, and three of my four brothers and sisters who are opposing me don't live in St. Louis," said Billy Busch.

Testimony, evidence and discussion focused on three main points of contention:

How the trust might conduct a sale – The Grant’s Farm property is owned by a trust overseen by Wells Fargo. The trust has asked the court to decide the extent of Wells Fargo’s discretion to sell the property, which will influence how a sale might take place and which party’s bids are deemed most appropriate. The court itself will not make this determination; its ruling will only influence what decisions the trust can make. The trust also asked the court to rule that Wells Fargo won’t be held liable for the result of its sale. 

Whether some siblings violated the trust - There is a particular clause within August A. Busch Jr.’s will that states certain actions taken by beneficiaries could remove them from the trust. The court heard arguments both for and against the position that plans to sell the property to the Saint Louis Zoo may have been in violation of the trust and would restrict the four united siblings' ability to buy the property.

Who is responsible for the legal fees stemming from the suit - The court also heard arguments that the unexpected legal fees resulting from the dispute over the sale of the farm should be covered by the trust that currently owns the property.

The judge could rule as early as next month or as late as summer on how the sale of Grant’s Farm could proceed. Both sides remained optimistic that the court would rule in their favor.

Andrew Busch even went as far as to say his siblings' position could include Billy.

“We think with the four of us and hopefully again, Billy will join us, that we’ll have great options with Grant’s Farm,” said Andrew Busch.

The sixth sibling, Adolphus Busch, did not attend the hearing but support's his brother Billy’s effort to buy the farm. Documents filed in court indicate that Adolphus may support that effort financially as well.

A brief outline of the Grant’s Farm sale saga:

Initially the Saint Louis Zoo announced its intention to purchase the property. So did Billy Busch.

The contest went to court shortly after the duel announcements.

After several months the Zoo withdraws its offer to purchase the property.

The four siblings who originally advocated for the sale offer to buy Grant’s farm themselves.

Billy Busch ups his original offer to one dollar more than his siblings' offer.