Michael Jackson’s Neverland Ranch has reportedly sold for $22 million, less than a quarter of its initial $100m asking price, to billionaire investor Ron Burkle in a deal described by one LA real estate agent as a “steal”.
The property in Los Olivos, California, was home to the late pop star from 1987, when he was at the height of his fame, to the time of his death in June 2009. He died of a drug overdose at a different home in the Holmby Hills neighborhood of Los Angeles.
Of the two Jackson properties, Neverland, set on 2,698 acres of land, was far better known. During the 1990s, Santa Barbara county prosecutors searched the ranch, describing it as a fantasy world that Jackson built to lure boys to the property to molest them. Jackson was acquitted in that case.
The ranch also featured an add-on amusement park, train ride and zoo that was home to orangutans and an elephant named Gypsy given to the singer-songwriter by Elizabeth Taylor in 1991. Neverland was put on the market at $100m in 2015.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Jackson’s ranch has finally been purchased by Burkle, a onetime associate of the late pop star and co-founder of the investment firm Yucaipa Companies, after it was re-listed for $31m this year.
At the time of the sale, it was co-owned by Jackson’s estate with a fund managed by Colony Capital, a real-estate investment trust. Jackson originally paid $19.5m for the ranch but had defaulted on a loan backed by the property and it was placed into a joint venture with the trust.
LA real estate agent Ian Reed told the Guardian that even considering the home’s “creepy past” and the fact that the ranch, built in 1982, features out of date interiors, the price could be considered a steal.
“It’s maybe like a haunted house but the buyer just got a deal – a steal in fact,” Reed said.
The buyer advised Michael Jackson on business matters for several years before his death, when the pop star was working to extricate himself from financial trouble. He is known to have several houses in the area, including the Ennis House in Los Angeles, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, and a John Lautner home in Palm Springs, designed and built for Bob and Dolores Hope.
According to the listing, Sycamore Valley Ranch, AKA NeverLand, consists of a 12,000-sq-ft French Normandy-style mansion and “is the ultimate ranch retreat … nestled between landscaped gardens and a 4-acre lake, incredible pastoral views to the south and majestic mountain views to the north”.
The property includes “an expansive covered outdoor BBQ area is perfect for entertaining and adjacent to the pool, pool house and tennis court.” Also on the property are three separate guest homes, a 5,500sq ft movie theater with stage, barns, animal shelter facilities, corrals and a maintenance shop.
At one time, Jackson installed a floral clock at the gates of the estate that spelled out “Neverland” a name that comes, of course, from J M Barrie’s Peter Pan. After Jackson’s death, the property was rebranded as Sycamore Valley Ranch and the amusement rides dismantled.