A Chinese billionaire credited with pioneering the online video gaming industry has become the second-biggest foreign owner of US land thanks to his nearly 200,000 acres of Oregon timberlands.
Chen Tianqiao, 50, acquired the huge tracts in Oregon from Fidelity National Financial Ventures for $85 million, or about $430 per acre, in 2015, according to the Land Report, which lists the Chinese-born, California-based businessman as the 82nd-largest property owner in America.
Despite the nearly decade-old purchase, the publication only added Chen to its Top 100 Landowners list this week.
Chen’s trails only Canada’s Irving family in foreign ownership on the list.
The Irvings own 1.2 million acres of Maine timberland, putting them No. 6 on Land Report’s ranking.
Chen made his fortune by founding online gaming company Shanda Interactive in 1999.
Within five years, it became one of China’s largest Internet companies, producing popular games like “The Word of Legend,” “Dungeons & Dragons Online” and “Final Fantasy XIV.”
The company was also listed on the Nasdaq in the US after raising $152 million — then the largest IPO of a Chinese internet company in the US, according to Shanda’s website.
By 2012, Chen took the company private, stepped down as CEO and moved his holding group, Shanda Investment Group, from China to Singapore.
As of 2024, Forbes has Chen’s net worth pegged at $1 billion — down from its peak of $1.5 billion a decade ago.
Representatives for Chen at Shanda did not immediately respond to The Post’s request for comment.
Rural properties have been a popular asset for ultra-wealthy investors in recent years, as the average value of US cropland jumped 8.1% in 2023 alone, Bloomberg reported, citing data from the US Department of Agriculture.
American farmland has risen more than a third in value since 2020, per the USDA.
The country’s largest landowner is the Emmerson family, owners of timberland empire Sierra Pacific Industries, according to the Land Report’s ranking, followed by media industry billionaires John Malone and Ted Turner, and sports mogul Stan Kroenke.
Aside from real estate in the US, Chen’s investments span public and private equities and venture, per Shanda’s website.
Chen and his wife, Chrissy Luo, bought the Vanderbilt Mansion on East 69th Street in Manhattan for $39 million in 2018. In 2021, they were linked to the $25 million purchase of the historic Seeley Mudd Estate in the Los Angeles suburbs.
The couple’s philanthropic efforts include an initial $115 million founding donation to the Tianqiao and Chrissy Chen Institute for Neuroscience at the California Institute of Technology in 2016.
Per the Institute’s website, “it is a key component of a neuroscience initiative that is geared toward deepening our understanding of the brain’s structure and how the brain works at its most basic level.”