Storey brothel owner buys Mustang

Lance Gilman, owner of the Storey County brothel Wild Horse Canyon, purchased the Mustang Brothel, its logo and name on eBay Monday for $145,100.

His partner, Susan Austin, said they will remove the original 45-room pink stucco building from its location in North Storey County, then refurbish and reopen it at another Storey location.

"It was the world-famous Mustang Ranch, the first legal brothel in history," she said.

"It's part of Storey County's heritage. Not everyone attaches that importance to it, but we know how the residents there feel about it."

Austin said they haven't picked a site, but the building can be moved with relative ease.

"We'll call it the Mustang Ranch," she said. "And that's what it will always be."

Prostitution in Nevada was not legalized until 1970, but Joe Conforte, the first owner of the Mustang, slipped around the law in a three-county area near Wadsworth, operating his first Nevada sex-for-sale operation in the Triangle River Ranch in mobile homes.

By staying mobile, he could move to Lyon County when he got into trouble in Storey, then pick up and move into Washoe if necessary.

Conforte bought and operated the Mustang Ranch in 1967. Life became a little less erratic for his customers after a 1970 vote by the Storey County Commission created Ordinance No. 38, legalizing prostitution.

The property was seized by the Internal Revenue Service in August of 1999 and Conforte, charged with income tax evasion, is a fugitive living in South America.

The Treasury Department transferred the property to the Bureau of Land Management, who will use it to manage periodic flooding of the Truckee River and connect two bureau parcels contiguous to the ranch.

The water rights were sold to the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe, and with this sale, the fate of the Mustang is sealed.

The bureau received the money by electronic transfer about mid-day Tuesday, said Mark Struble, BLM spokesman.

Austin said many bidders dropped out at just under $100,000. She and Gilman didn't start bidding on the property until the last minute and were lucky to be the last bid.

"We'd like to open it the first quarter of the new year, but first we have to find a place to put it," Austin said. "I'm the manager. This means more work for me, but I think I'm up to it.

"I would love to see it look like it did when it first opened. I want to update it but keep the colors, red and black and gold for the interior," Austin said. "I think I can get my hands on some old photos and I know some people who worked there in many different capacities."

Struble said there aren't any firm long-range plans for the acreage.

Much depends on a series of public hearings.

"The area is prime wildlife and recreational land and we're going to rehabilitate it for public use," he said. "There are so few places to throw a fishing line in or camp along the river."

Gilman is involved in several enterprises, including Storey County's Tahoe Reno Industrial Center.


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