'Jewish' Ski Resort Taos Sold to Hedge Fund Mogul

New Mexico Snow Spot Developed by Holocaust Survivor

getty images

By JTA

Published December 21, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share

Billionaire financier Louis Bacon is buying Taos Ski Valley, a New Mexico ski resort founded by a Jew who fled Nazi Germany and whose family has owned Taos ever since.

The ski area was established in the mid-1950s by Ernie Blake, a German Jew born Ernst Hermann Bloch who emigrated from Germany in 1938 and changed his name to Blake during World War II, when he worked as a U.S. Army intelligence officer interrogating top Nazis.

Before fleeing Europe, Blake served as a Swiss Air Force pilot and is said to have been excluded from the 1936 German Olympics ice hockey team only because of his Jewish background. After moving to America, Blake worked in the winter department of Saks Fifth Avenue.

After installing its first lift, a J-bar, in 1956, Blake and his family turned what had been a forested area of the Sangre de Cristo range of the Rocky Mountains into a ski resort with 1,300 acres spread over 110 trails serviced by 13 lifts. The area, which tops out at about 12,500 feet, averages about 300 inches of snow per year.

Until its sale earlier this month, Taos was one of the last large family-owned ski mountains in America.

Bacon, the buyer, is the founder of Moore Capital Management, a hedge fund. Bacon owns thousands of acres of land in Colorado, Long Island and the Bahamas, and last year he helped protect 167,000 acres of ranch land in Colorado by donating conservation easements to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, according to The New York Times. His fortune is estimated at $1.4 billion, according to Forbes.

The announcement regarding Taos did not disclose the amount of sale.

Despite its size and quality skiing, Taos’ base area is far less developed than most similar-sized American ski resorts, and the Blake family reportedly did not have the cash to make necessary capital improvements to Taos.

“The family got together and had this big heart-to-heart about how as a ski operation we will never be able to make these improvements without risking the company,” Blake’s granddaughter, Adrianna Blake, said, according to the Times.

Blake died in 1989, but many of his family members still work on the mountain, and his presence is still palpable on Taos. Four ski trails are named after the German officers who tried to assassinate Hitler in July 1944, and a slope called Al’s Run is named for a Jewish doctor friend of Blake’s who supported the development of Taos and so loved skiing that he kept going even after a heart condition forced him to take to the slopes with an oxygen tank strapped to his back.

Blake’s legacy at Taos was the subject of an award-winning JTA story in December 2011.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • PHOTOS: Hundreds of protesters marched through lower Manhattan yesterday demanding an end to American support for Israel’s operation in #Gaza.
  • Does #Hamas have to lose for there to be peace? Read the latest analysis by J.J. Goldberg.
  • This is what the rockets over Israel and Gaza look like from space:
  • "Israel should not let captives languish or corpses rot. It should do everything in its power to recover people and bodies. Jewish law places a premium on pidyon shvuyim, “the redemption of captives,” and proper burial. But not when the price will lead to more death and more kidnappings." Do you agree?
  • Slate.com's Allison Benedikt wrote that Taglit-Birthright Israel is partly to blame for the death of American IDF volunteer Max Steinberg. This is why she's wrong:
  • Israeli soldiers want you to buy them socks. And snacks. And backpacks. And underwear. And pizza. So claim dozens of fundraising campaigns launched by American Jewish and Israeli charities since the start of the current wave of crisis and conflict in Israel and Gaza.
  • The sign reads: “Dogs are allowed in this establishment but Zionists are not under any circumstances.”
  • Is Twitter Israel's new worst enemy?
  • More than 50 former Israeli soldiers have refused to serve in the current ground operation in #Gaza.
  • "My wife and I are both half-Jewish. Both of us very much felt and feel American first and Jewish second. We are currently debating whether we should send our daughter to a Jewish pre-K and kindergarten program or to a public one. Pros? Give her a Jewish community and identity that she could build on throughout her life. Cons? Costs a lot of money; She will enter school with the idea that being Jewish makes her different somehow instead of something that you do after or in addition to regular school. Maybe a Shabbat sing-along would be enough?"
  • Undeterred by the conflict, 24 Jews participated in the first ever Jewish National Fund— JDate singles trip to Israel. Translation: Jews age 30 to 45 travelled to Israel to get it on in the sun, with a side of hummus.
  • "It pains and shocks me to say this, but here goes: My father was right all along. He always told me, as I spouted liberal talking points at the Shabbos table and challenged his hawkish views on Israel and the Palestinians to his unending chagrin, that I would one day change my tune." Have you had a similar experience?
  • "'What’s this, mommy?' she asked, while pulling at the purple sleeve to unwrap this mysterious little gift mom keeps hidden in the inside pocket of her bag. Oh boy, how do I answer?"
  • "I fear that we are witnessing the end of politics in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I see no possibility for resolution right now. I look into the future and see only a void." What do you think?
  • Not a gazillionaire? Take the "poor door."
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.