Michael Jackson Neverland Ranch on market for $135m

LOS ANGELES (BLOOMBERG) - Neverland Ranch, the former home of the late pop star Michael Jackson, is up for sale with an asking price of US$100 million (S$ 135 million), according to a person with knowledge of the offering.

Thomas Barrack Jr. said last July that he was preparing to market the 2,680-acre estate in the Santa Ynez Valley, known for its wineries. The property, about 210 kilometers northwest of Los Angeles, was named after the island in J.M. Barrie's story of Peter Pan, a boy who never grows up.

Prices for coastal California real estate have soared since the housing crash, when Barrack's Colony Capital Inc. acquired the property at a time Jackson faced financial troubles. A record number of homes around the world have asking prices at US$100 million or more as a growing number of global billionaires seek trophy property, according to a report last month by Christie's International Real Estate.

"We've really just been custodians of an irreplaceable estate and are proud to say we've restored it to the original elegance Michael first envisioned," he said in an e-mail to Bloomberg News in July. "We are now considering putting it up for sale."

The Wall Street Journal, which reported the marketing plan earlier Thursday, said the property has been renamed Sycamore Valley Ranch. The Journal cited Suzanne Perkins of Sotheby's International Realty, who shares the listing with Harry Kolb of Sotheby's and Jeffrey Hyland of Hilton & Hyland.

Ms Perkins and Mr Kolb referred questions to Caroline Luz, a Barrack spokesman, who said Colony declined to comment. Mr Hyland didn't respond to messages seeking comment.

Jackson bought the ranch in 1988 and turned it into a combination amusement park and zoo, where he entertained fans and was frequently seen with his pet chimpanzee Bubbles. The singer stopped visiting the ranch after it was searched by police investigating allegations of child molestation, leading to charges for which Jackson was tried and acquitted in 2005.

Jackson died in 2009 of cardiac arrest and acute drug intoxication at age 50 while preparing for a comeback tour.

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