The Neverland ranch of the late pop superstar Michael Jackson has been sold to a billionaire investor for a quarter of its primary asking price. Ron Burkle, an ex-friend of Jackson, just purchased the estate in Los Olivos, California, his spokesman said. He spent $22m (£16.2m) for Neverland, the Wall Street Journal reported, quoting public documents and three people aware of the sale. The 2,700-acre (1,100 hectares) compound was initially detailed for $100m in 2015.
Jackson originally paid about $19.5m for Neverland, which he anointed after a mythical island where children never grow up in ?JM Barrie’s Peter Pan story. The Thriller singer purchased Neverland in 1987, creating it his home during the peak of his stardom. He shifted the ranch into an entertainment complex, building a zoo and fairground on-site, where he frequently amused children and their families.
In the 1990s and 2000s, Neverland evolved as the center of diverse probes into child sexual charge allegations against Jackson. The pop star refused allegations by Santa Barbara prosecutors that he had used Neverland as a fiction world to train young boys. In 2005, Jackson was attempted and exonerated of charges of abusing a 13-year-old boy at the ranch.
Jackson never came back to Neverland. Four years later, in June 2009, Jackson passed away at another home in Los Angeles after suffering a cardiac arrest generated by a drug overdose. Since his death, Jackson has been the issue of further abuse allegations, including those produced in a documentary called Leaving Neverland in 2019. Neverland has been rebranded as Sycamore Valley Ranch and has experienced comprehensive renewal since Jackson’s death.
Mr. Burkle’s spokesman told the businessman caught the acquisition as a land banking option. He dotted the estate from the air while examining it at another location and reached Tom Barrack, the founder of real-estate investment company Colony Capital LLC, to seal the sale. Mr. Burkle, 68, is co-founder and managing associate of Yucaipa Companies, LLC, a private acquisition firm. His net worth as of 24 December 2020 was calculated to be $1.4bn.