Founder of Cadillac Ranch dies

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Austin, Texas - Stanley Marsh 3, who rose to prominence for his whimsical Cadillac Ranch art installation in the Texas Panhandle and whose latter years were tainted by accusations of sexually abusing children, has died at the age of 76, his lawyer said on Tuesday.

Marsh was an oil multi-millionaire and known throughout Texas for quirky feats such as building what he said was the world's biggest pool table in a cow pasture on the Texas plains.

Marsh had been in failing health and died in hospice care, according to TV broadcaster KVII, a station Marsh owned from 1967 until 2002.

Marsh was indicted in 2013 on more than a dozen counts involving the sexual molestation of children and was to stand trial later this year.

The allegations first surfaced in a civil lawsuit filed by two boys who were 15 and 16 years old when the incidents allegedly happened in 2010. That suit was to have gone to trial in September.

“We had been looking forward to the opportunity to clear Stanley's good name,” his lawyer Paul Nugent said.

“The world has lost Stanley's grand imagination, philanthropic generosity and prankster personality,” Nugent said.

Marsh, who considered the Roman numerals “III” to be pretentious and preferred the suffix “3”, is best known as the owner of Cadillac Ranch, which features 10 brightly painted Cadillac cars buried nose-first in the ground along Interstate 40 in the Texas Panhandle.

Cadillac Ranch, built in the mid-1970s just off the fabled Route 66, is still a major tourist destination and has became a part of American culture as the subject of everything from a Bruce Springsteen song to an episode of the animated television show King Of The Hill.

Marsh's pranks included making a 12m necktie that he placed around the chimney of his mother's home and throwing a party for a group of Japanese businessmen where he invited local men over two metres (6 feet 4 inches) to reinforce the idea of the long, tall Texan, Texas Monthly reported.

A separate lawsuit filed against Marsh in 2012 claimed he paid 10 teenage boys to engage in sexual acts both at his office in Amarillo and at his home, called Toad Hall, a reference to the Kenneth Grahame novel The Wind In The Willows. That suit also was pending. - Reuters

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