Saturday , February 4 2023
The train station at Michael Jackson's Neverland ranch.(Reuters: Phil Klein)

Michael Jackson’s Neverland Ranch sold to billionaire Ron Burkle for $22 million

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Michael Jackson’s Neverland Ranch in California has found a new owner in billionaire businessman Ron Burkle.

The Wall Street Journal reported the property was sold for $28.96 million to Mr Burkle, an associate of the late pop star and co-founder of the investment firm Yucaipa Companies.

The asking price of the property was $100 million in 2016 then dropped to $US67 million a year later.

Michael Jackson's estate sued HBO for $100m (£75m)

Michael Jackson died of an overdose aged 50 in 2009

When the property was put on sale in 2015 real estate experts said the asking price was “optimistic” given the unproven charges of child molestation which tainted Jackson’s final years before his death in 2009.

In addition to a 1,161-square-metres main residence and a 344-square-metre pool house, the property boasts a separate building with a 50-seat movie theatre and a dance studio.

Other features on the ranch are a Disney-style train station, a fire house and barn.

Mr. Jackson’s estate co-owned the ranch with a fund managed by Colony Capital , a real-estate investment trust. Amid financial struggles, Mr. Jackson had defaulted on a loan backed by the ranch and Colony bought the note in 2008, putting the property’s title into a joint venture it formed with the pop star. Mr. Jackson originally paid about $19.5 million for the ranch in 1987.

Mr. Jackson made Neverland famous by installing quirky features like a railroad and an amusement park, which included a Ferris wheel and a merry-go-round. He also kept orangutans and an elephant there. A whimsical floral clock in the front of the property spelled out “Neverland.” The ranch was named for the fantasy world in J.M. Barrie’s “Peter Pan.”

Mr Burkle views the 1,093-hectare property in Los Olivos, near Santa Barbara, as a land banking (future investment) opportunity, his spokesman said.

Ron Burkle wearing a black polo shirt and black sunglasses with a group of people standing behind him

Ron Burkle bought the property following a flyover of the ranch.(AP: Keith Srakocic, File)

His spokesman said the billionaire had been eyeing Zaca Lake — which adjoins the property — for a new Soho House, a members-only club with locations in Los Angeles, Miami, New York and Toronto.

He ultimately decided the location was too remote and expensive for a club.

Mr Burkle is the controlling shareholder of Soho House.

After Mr Burkle saw the property from the air, he put in an offer to purchase.

About Charles Igbinidu

Charles Igbinidu is a Public Relations practitioner in Lagos, Nigeria

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