Michael Jackson’s Abandoned Mansion sells for £22m: Photos 12 years later

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Overview

Michael Jackson’s iconic Neverland Ranch, once listed for $100 million, has been sold to billionaire businessman Ron Burkle for $22 million, five years after it was put on the market. This sprawling 2,800-acre property in California, now known as Sycamore Valley Ranch, has a rich history and has been vacant since Jackson’s death in 2009.

The Sale and Its Significance

  • Original Listing and Sale Price: Initially listed for $100 million in 2016, the estate was purchased for a significantly reduced price of $22 million.
  • Purchaser: Ron Burkle, a billionaire businessman and former business counselor to Michael Jackson during the mid-2000s, acquired the property.
  • Background: Jackson bought Neverland in 1988 for $17 million and invested over $35 million in renovations to create his dream theme park.

Neverland’s Features and Legacy

  • Attractions: The property featured a Ferris wheel, train station, go-kart track, flower clock, exquisite garden statuary, and a petting zoo.
  • Railroads: It hosted two narrow gauge railroads, including the “Neverland Valley Railroad” with a steam locomotive named Katherine.
  • Famous Events: The ranch was the venue for Elizabeth Taylor’s wedding, a live interview with Oprah Winfrey, and a global children’s event hosted by Jackson and Lisa Marie Presley.

Controversies and Public Interest

  • Documentary Impact: The release of “Leaving Neverland,” a documentary alleging sexual abuse by Jackson, brought renewed attention to the ranch.
  • Legal Issues: After being acquitted of child sexual abuse charges in 2003, Jackson vowed never to return, feeling the property had been violated by the police search.

The Ranch’s Transformation and Final Sale

  • Decline: Post-Jackson’s death, the ranch fell into disrepair, with its amusement rides and animals removed.
  • Market Struggles: Initially rebranded as Sycamore Valley Ranch and listed for $100 million in 2015, the price was gradually lowered due to lack of interest.
  • Purchase Details: In December 2020, Ron Burkle purchased the estate for $22 million, with no immediate plans for development, viewing it as a “land bank opportunity.”

Cultural References and Legacy

  • Location: Situated in Santa Barbara County, California, near Los Padres National Forest.
  • Naming: Named Neverland after the fictional island in Peter Pan, symbolizing a place where one never grows old.
  • Pop Culture: The ranch served not just as Jackson’s home but also as a personal amusement park, contributing to its legendary status.

Conclusion

Michael Jackson’s Neverland Ranch has transitioned from a vibrant entertainment hub to a topic of controversy and, finally, to an abandoned property awaiting new beginnings under Ron Burkle’s ownership. Its history reflects the complexities of Jackson’s life and the enduring fascination with his legacy.

Kitchen in the main house of Jackson’s Neverland Ranch
Movie theatre at Jackson’s Neverland Ranch
A vintage ice-cream bike gifted to Jackson by Elizabeth Taylor
The clock feature at the train station of Jackson’s Neverland Ranch
The ranch’s private arcade that used to be full of games
The outdoor fairground at Neverland
One of two welcome signs that mark the entrance to the ranch
The bathtub in the master bathroom of Neverland’s main house

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