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Michael Jackson’s famous Neverland Ranch estate, all 2,700 acres of grandeur, will be on the market soon. According to Forbes, Colony Capital, the real estate investment firm, will be selling the property due to the fact that the company owns equity in it since purchasing it for $23.5 million in 2008 when Jackson was facing foreclosure. A rep for Jackson’s estate told Forbes, “We are frustrated, bitterly disappointed and saddened that is has come to this. Sadly, Jackson lost control of Neverland during his life as a result of advice from a former manager.”
Jackson owned Neverland for twenty years before being forced to sell. According to USA Today he bought the estate in 1988 from William Bone, a golf course entrepreneur. In all its splendor, the ranch included a movie theater, an amusement park complete with Ferris wheel and rollercoaster, guesthouses, stables, a zoo housing giraffes, elephants, crocodiles, chimpanzees, a bear, and snakes, a railroad, an arcade, and apartments, 22 buildings total, with an estimated value of $30 million in 2003. In 2007, Jackson’s hovering debt threatened to force him to hold an auction of more than 2,000 artifacts, which he stopped in April of 2009, just two months before his death. Later, a public viewing of the pop star’s body was held at Neverland.
There is hope for the Los Olivos, California property, however, as the estate considers buying it back. “The Estate explored numerous options, including a purchase,” continued the aforementioned representative’s statement to Forbes. “But financial, land use and zoning restrictions have made all of the proposed options prohibitive given our duty as Executors to be fiscally responsible in protecting and growing the assets of the Estate for Michael’s children.” The cost of keeping up Neverland, incurred by Colony over the course of the last six years, amounts to close to $5 million a year plus the original purchase of $23.5 million, making the total expense since Jackson’s death over $50 million. Recent estate value estimations from the The Telegraph estimate a worth of $50 million while The Daily Mail says $60 million.
Other options Forbes mentioned that were considered include making Neverland a tourist attraction for fans, similar to Elvis Presley’s home Graceland, or transforming the ranch into a performing arts school, an idea Jackson had himself towards the end of his life. The location of the Neverland Ranch, however, makes it apparent that both of these ideas are not very practical. It is secluded enough that hosting thousands of touring visitors or hundreds of performing arts students every year would be difficult to say the least.
Meanwhile the Jackson family waits to see the outcome of these affairs. A spokesperson for the Jacksons told IB Times that the family is “saddened at the prospect of the sale of Neverland which, under the agreement negotiated during Michael’s lifetime, Colony has the right to sell. We hope and trust that any new owners of Neverland will respect the historical importance and special nature of this wonderful property. Michael’s memory lives on in the hearts of his fans worldwide.”