Eccentric Texas businessman-turned-artist Stanley Marsh 3, whose partially buried row of Cadillacs became a famous American road-side attraction in the 1970s, died Tuesday at the age of 76.
Marsh, long known in his hometown of Amarillo, Texas, as a prankster and philanthropist but who faced indictment alleging he molested teenage boys late in life, died in Amarillo, criminal attorney Paul Nugent said.
'By nature I'm an introvert, and I'm a shy person. When I do these stunts, which cause a great deal of attention, I can kind of shift gears and act like a master of ceremonies' - Stanley Marsh 3
An heir to his family's oil-and-gas fortune, Marsh was a quirky but successful banker and television executive. But he was best known for his art, most notably Cadillac Ranch, a row of 10 graffiti-splattered cars seemingly standing on their noses along Interstate 40 west of Amarillo.
The display, which will celebrate its 40th anniversary Saturday, quickly became a tourist attraction after Marsh commissioned the Ant Farm, a radical art and design collective, to build it in 1974.
"By nature I'm an introvert, and I'm a shy person," Marsh once said.
"When I do these stunts, which cause a great deal of attention, I can kind of shift gears and act like a master of ceremonies."
Marsh, whose given name was Stanley Marsh "III," before he changed it to "3" because he thought the former was pretentious, never followed his family’s work in the oil business, though at one point he did buy and manage a local television station.
He and his wife, Wendy, adopted five children and had numerous grandchildren and lived in Toad Hall, a 300-acre estate on the outskirts of Amarillo.
In 2012, when Marsh was 74, several lawsuits were filed alleging he'd paid two boys, ages 15 and 16 at the time, for sexual acts. He settled the lawsuits the next year, but was indicted two months later on charges that accused him of sexually assaulting six teenagers in recent years. Marsh denied the allegations and vowed to fight them in court. No trial date had been set.
Although his art and shenanigans were often public, Marsh said he never wanted to be figured out. In 1994, he said he wanted his epitaph to read in part: "Thanks, everybody. I had a good time."