Busch siblings in legal feud over Grant’s Farm

Four children of the late August “Gussie” Busch Jr. are suing their brother William “Billy” Busch in St. Louis Circuit Court over his plan to buy Grant’s Farm, a 281-acre animal park the family owns in south St. Louis County, Mo., for about $27 million, the St. Louis Business Journal reported. Adolphus Busch is the only one of Billy’s siblings who supports him, the article said.

A competing offer, for about $30 million, has been made by the Saint Louis Zoo, which wants to do research and breed endangered species on the property. Siblings Gertrude Valentine, Beatrice Van Gontard, Peter Busch and Andrew Busch, who favor the zoo’s offer, have filed suit in St. Louis Circuit Court, contending that Billy’s offer is less than the zoo’s offer and less than the appraised value of the farm, the article said.

The four siblings say Billy’s offer “is an option to purchase, not a binding obligation to purchase, and would require their Real Estate Trust to terminate Grant’s Farm’s lease with Anheuser-Busch InBev at a cost of $3.8 million,” the journal article said. They also contend that a sale to Billy would count as a taxable gift for federal gift tax purposes, the report said.

A donation from Anheuser-Busch InBev would fund much of the zoo’s purchase, but the deal with the zoo requires voters to approve spending at least $3.5 million of taxpayer money annually to operate Grant’s Farm, the article said. The siblings’ suit says a sale to the zoo at a price below the property’s fair market value would qualify as an income tax charitable deduction for the six trust beneficiaries.

Billy Busch founded the William K. Busch Brewing Company, which makes Kräftig, in 2011.

Billy Busch said his father wanted family members to buy and run Grant’s Farm, the article said. Billy and Adolphus’s plan involves putting a brewery on the site as well as obtaining corporate sponsorships, which has not been possible under the lease with Anheuser-Busch. Billy and Adolphus said they offered to buy the property and lease a portion of it to the zoo, but negotiations have hit an impasse, the article said.

The report noted that the Busch family loses money on the property every year.  A hearing in the suit is scheduled for November 23. (Source: St. Louis Business Journal, Nov. 19, 2015.)