Michael Jackson’s Abandoned Mansion Sells For £22m: Photos 12 Years Later

Five years after Michael Jackson’s famous Neverland ranch hit the market for a jaw-dropping $100 million, it found a new owner in businessman Ron Burkle, who snagged it for a much more reasonable $22 million. But what’s become of the estate since then?

Remember Michael Jackson’s iconic Neverland property?

It’s been left empty since the singer’s unexpected passing in 2009. Recent reports reveal that billionaire Ron Burkle, who once advised Jackson during the mid-2000s, managed to acquire the sprawling 2,800-acre California estate for just $22 million, quite a steal considering it was initially listed at a whopping $100 million back in 2016.

Back in the day, Jackson was facing financial struggles due to his lavish lifestyle and mounting debts. Burkle stepped in to help, making him quite the hero.

Jackson initially purchased Neverland for $17 million in 1988, and then poured over $35 million into transforming it into his dream amusement park. The property featured a Ferris wheel, a train station, a go-kart track, and more. But after the King of Pop’s passing, the estate fell into disrepair and sat vacant.

Ron Burkle, who already owned more than 1,000 acres in California, decided to scoop up Neverland, now dubbed Sycamore Valley Ranch, as a strategic land investment. Interestingly, Burkle has no immediate plans to develop or upgrade the property.

Despite the efforts of Jackson’s family to block the release of the controversial documentary “Leaving Neverland,” which alleged past misconduct by Jackson, the sprawling ranch has regained public attention.

So, what’s the story behind this mysterious property called Neverland?

Situated in Santa Barbara County, California, the mansion-cum-amusement-park resides on the edge of the Los Padres National Forest. Its address: 5225 Figueroa Mountain Road, Los Olivos, California 93441. And according to the Santa Barbara County Assessor’s Office, the ranch covers around 2,800 acres (1100 hectares).

Why the whimsical name?

Well, Jackson christened it Neverland in 1988, transforming it into an internationally recognized abode. The moniker comes from the fictional island in Peter Pan’s tale, the place where youth never fades.

Jackson’s ties with the ranch go way back to when he visited Sir Paul McCartney, who was staying there during the filming of the “Say Say Say” music video.

So, what sort of adventures unfolded at this enchanting estate during Jackson’s tenure?

Originally acquired by real estate developer William Bone in 1977 as the Zaca Laderas Ranch, it later became the Sycamore Valley Ranch under his ownership. In 1988, Jackson acquired it from Bone, although the exact price remains a mystery (estimates range from $19.5 million to around $30 million).

Beyond serving as Jackson’s residence, the property morphed into his personal amusement park. Imagine flower clocks, exquisite garden sculptures, and even a petting zoo!

But that’s not all. The estate hosted two narrow gauge railroads: the “Neverland Valley Railroad,” with a 3-foot gauge, featuring a steam locomotive named Katherine in honor of Jackson’s mother, and another with a 2-foot gauge housing a Chance Rides-manufactured locomotive named CP Huntington.

And the list continues: a bumper car track, a roller coaster, a Ferris wheel, a carousel, and more. Even the master bedroom harbored a secret safe room.

Notable events like Elizabeth Taylor’s wedding to Larry Fortensky in 1991 and a live interview with Oprah Winfrey in 1993 brought the spotlight to the Jackson Family Ranch.

After facing child abuse charges in 2003 (which were later dropped), Neverland Ranch underwent police searches as part of the investigation. Jackson declared he would never return after the ordeal, referring to the police presence as a “violation.”

In 2006, the property shuttered, leaving many unemployed. Jackson’s passing in 2009 led to rumors of transforming the ranch into a pilgrimage site akin to Graceland, Elvis Presley’s haven. However, those plans never materialized.

The property’s deterioration led to its rebranding as Sycamore Valley Ranch in 2015, with an initial price tag of $100 million. Despite opposition, major renovations were undertaken by Colony NorthStar.

Sotheby’s International Realty brokered the sale of this 12,598-square-foot home with six bedrooms, a four-acre lake, a pool house, guest cottages, a tennis court, and a sprawling 5,500-square-foot movie theater and stage.

The asking price plummeted to $67 million due to limited interest and further dropped to $31 million in 2019. Ultimately, in December 2020, Ron Burkle scooped up the property for $22 million, giving this once-magical place a new chapter in its history.

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