Michael Jackson's Neverland Ranch sold for knockdown price

The Neverland Ranch sold for US$22 million, down from US$100 million in 2015.
The Neverland Ranch sold for US$22 million, down from US$100 million in 2015.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

LOS ANGELES (REUTERS) - Michael Jackson's famed Neverland Ranch in California has finally sold, more than 10 years after the death of the pop star who abandoned the property following his trial on charges of molesting a young boy there.

Billionaire investor Ron Burkle, a former family friend of Jackson, recently bought the sprawling 2,700 acre (1,100ha) estate, his spokesman said on Thursday (Dec 24).

The Wall Street Journal said the property, which was renamed Sycamore Valley Ranch several years ago, sold for US$22 million (S$29 million) according to public records.

In 2015, the asking price was US$100 million and in 2017 it was re-listed for US$67 million.

Burkle's spokesman said the businessman saw the investment as a land banking opportunity.

He spotted the estate from the air while looking at another location and contacted Tom Barrack, the founder of real estate investment company Colony Capital, to seal the sale.

The ranch was off the market at the time.

Jackson, who died from an overdose of the anesthetic Propofol in 2009 at age 50, bought the property in Los Olivos, about 190km north of Los Angeles, in 1988 for US$19.5 million.

After financial troubles, in 2008 he handed over the title to Colony Capital, which held a loan on the property.

Neverland, a name taken from the "Peter Pan" tale of a boy who refused to grew up, became Jackson's favourite retreat and famously featured a zoo, a railway and theme park rides.

It also was where he entertained children, one of whom brought molestation charges against the singer that resulted in a 2005 trial and Jackson's acquittal on all charges.

Jackson vowed never to return to Neverland after the trial.

Burkle is the controlling shareholder of Soho House, a private members club that attracts people in the entertainment and media industries and which has properties in New York, London, Los Angeles and Hong Kong.