Never say never. Michael Jackson’s troubled Neverland Ranch has found a new owner.
Billionaire Ron Burkle, co-founder of investment firm Yucaipa Companies and a former associate of Jackson, has purchased the Los Olivos, Calif., property for $22 million, the Wall Street Journal reports.
Beyond snagging himself roughly 2,700 acres and a nearly 12,000-square-foot mansion — among the many structures on the estate — Burkle also got a deal. The estate first hit the market in 2015 for a whopping $100 million.
From that point forward, the spread languished on the market. In 2017, it returned for sale asking $67 million following a massive $33 million price cut. In 2019, it was listed for $31 million, the Journal added.
Beyond the property’s sprawling scale, it is also jam-packed with amenities — such as a 50-seat movie theater, a basketball court and several guesthouses — which have long been the subject of dark stories.
In 2016, a report emerged claiming that Jackson kept a triple-locked closet in a guesthouse filled with photos of naked boys and children’s toys. More recently, the 2019 documentary “Leaving Neverland” focused on the stories of two men, Wade Robson and James Safechuck, who alleged that Jackson sexually abused them as children at Neverland Ranch, as well as other locations.
Jackson, who died at age 50 in 2009 from an acute drug overdose, stopped visiting Neverland following his 2005 acquittal on child molestation charges. While for sale, Neverland was renamed Sycamore Valley Ranch in an apparent effort to shed the property of its disturbing legacy. Jackson bought it for some $19.5 million in 1987, and famously gave it “Peter Pan” fantasy touches by adding an amusement park, which has since been removed.
Ron BurkleEugene Gologursky
Jackson’s estate then co-owned Neverland with a fund managed by real estate investment trust Colony Capital. According to the Journal, Jackson defaulted on a loan backed by the ranch and Colony bought the note in 2008, which put the title into a joint venture. Burkle was an advisor to Jackson on business matters in the mid-2000s, the Journal added, at a time when Jackson sought to prevent financial downfall due in part to his lavish lifestyle.
The property is located 30 minutes from downtown Santa Barbara and holds 22 structures in total, including a three-bedroom guesthouse with a fireplace.