Michael Jackson's Neverland Ranch (aka Sycamore Valley Ranch) has been sold. Billionaire Ron Burkle reportedly purchased Jackson's former 2,700-acre property in Los Olivos (near Santa Barbara) for $22 million - a steep drop from the original $100 million listing for Neverland Ranch, back in 2016. Neverland (named after the Peter Pan island realm where young kids never grow up) was the envy of its day, with an entire world for Jackson and his guests to live and play in. The 22 structures on the property include a 12,000 sq ft mansion, sports courts (basketball, tennis), a 50-seat movie theater, amusement park attractions, and even its own train station and rail system.
Ron Burkle has a history with Michael Jackson, having reportedly advised the pop-star on business matters in the mid-2000s (according to Deadline). Burkle is said to see the Neverland property as a "land banking opportunity." Jackson's former home was said to be "not publicly listed at the time" Burkle purchased it.
Neverland Ranch is a one-of-a-kind property, designed to fit the whims of its one-of-a-kind owner, after Jackson acquired the property in 1988, from property developer William Bone. The property also has the kind of history that few places can match, including the wedding of Elizabeth Taylor and Larry Fortensky in 1991 and the famous Oprah Winfrey tour and Jackson interview inside Neverland, in 1993. However, the property also comes with an equally infamous dark history.
Michael Jackson still faces allegations of child sexual abuse taking place over the course of years at Neverland - stories being told by alleged victims even a decade after Jackson's death in 2009. Whatever your personal feelings about those matters, Neverland was undeniably a site where Jackson engaged in some eccentric behavior; the pop-star stayed in the tabloids due to the many underage guests he invited to spend time with him at his home, where they were free to indulge in the property's many child-friendly amenities. After being cleared of child molestation charges in the People v. Jackson criminal case of 2003, Jackson refused to return to Neverland; the facility officially closed in 2006, and most of the staff were dismissed from service.
The dark shadow of the allegations against Jackson is cited as a major reason why the property has tumbled in terms of its value. Wonder if that sentiment will hold true in a post-COVID world; a private world built for an incredibly wealthy person seems like a major commodity now...