Neverland Ranch, the famed property with an amusement park and zoo animals owned by the late Michael Jackson, is for sale, but who will buy The King of Pop’s over-the-top fantasy land?
The property in Los Olivos, California is being sold by Colony Capital, which owns a primary stake in the ranch after buying it for $23.5 million in 2008 when Jackson was facing foreclosure.
So far, there’s no official asking price for buyers interested in Neverland Ranch, but Forbes reported the property was assessed at $30.3 million by Santa Barbara County. The Telegraph said because of an increase in luxury property prices in California, Neverland Ranch could be sold for $50 million. Some believe it could fetch ever higher, like The Daily Mail, which said insiders believe it will go for $60 million.
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In 1988, the King of Pop bought the ranch, which has 22 buildings, including a mansion, guesthouses and several apartments. There’s also an amusement park with a roller coaster and Ferris wheel, a railroad, a movie theater, stables, an arcade and a zoo, complete with elephants, giraffes, chimpanzees, crocodiles, snakes and a bear. MTV News reported upkeep took as much as $5 million per year.
Thomas Barrack Jr of Colony Capital, who would not reveal the asking price, told Bloomberg News he helped restore it as "an enduring tribute to Michael Jackson.”
"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. We are now considering putting it up for sale,” Barrack said.
A spokesperson for the Jackson family said they are “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,” the spokesperson continued. “Michael's memory lives on in the hearts of his fans worldwide."
The rep said Jackson’s estate will maintain his Encino home where his iconic recording studio still stands.
Jackson left Neverland Ranch in 2005 amid child molestation charges, for which he was tried and acquitted. Forbes also reported Jackson “faced mounting debts and the real estate market was in free fall” leading him to sell the property three years later. He died in 2009 of cardiac arrest and acute drug intoxication at 50 years old.
Neverland Ranch has a rich history of celebrity visitors, so it’s only fair a celebrity with ties to the ranch should buy it. Here are nine famous faces we think should purchase Jackson’s playland.
Jay Z and Beyoncé
Their marriage is reportedly on the rocks and rumors circulated that Bey is even apartment hunting for a bachelorette pad. But now that Jay is reportedly making an attempt to “save the relationship,” what a better way than to buy Neverland Ranch; Blue Ivy would love it.
Last year, The New York Post said Jay Z and Beyoncé toured Neverland and were reportedly interested in buying it. Later, though, Jay Z denied the claims and told The Post, “I’ve got no interest in Neverland.”
After fighting with Orlando Bloom and his breakup with Selena Gomez, Bieber could use some time isolated or with his core posse at Neverland. Shortly after Bey and Jay toured the ranch, Bieber’s camp tried talking the troubled singer into buying the property. Perez Hilton reported Bieber “would love to live there” because Jackson was his “idol.”
“Justin has been caught up in a fair amount of trouble lately so the best thing is for him to get out of central LA and live a quieter life,” Perez Hilton said. “His team genuinely fear for him and want him to calm down and be happy. They’ve found the ideal solution, which is to move him to a ranch hours out of the city where he won’t be constantly hounded.”
Kim Kardashian and Kanye West
They made “Kidchella” for their daughter, North West, so it only makes sense Hollywood’s brattiest child should get Neverland Ranch as her stomping grounds. And she wouldn’t be the first Kardashian to grace the famed property.
The day Jackson died, Kim posted a tribute to the singer, whom she said she knew her entire life, on Twitter.
"I'm looking at pictures of my 14th bday party at Neverland Ranch, these memories will last forever!” she wrote.
In 2005, bombshell claims were made in Jackson’s child molestation case involving Culkin, the star of the “Home Alone” movies. Culkin said he slept in Jackson’s bed a dozen or more time between the ages of 9 and 14. Culkin however said Jackson “never” sexually molested him. The actor told jurors that his visits to the Ranch were “good old fun.”
Since it was Jackson’s in the first place, his children—Prince, 17; Paris, 16 and Blanket, 12—could be the best buyers for Neverland, especially since Randy Jackson once said the ranch is “something that we want to keep in the family.”
Paris has taken a particular liking to the property and spearheaded a project along with her siblings to help restore it in April 2013 to the conditions it was in when she was growing up. The project was a success, according to a source who told The Daily Mail:
“Neverland has never looked better…people are now looking after the house like it should have always been when Michael was alive,” the source said. “We’re lucky that the children are level-headed and want it to be a fitting tribute to their dad and also do some good in the world.”
The Post said Jackson’s children “get upset each time reports surface of a potential Neverland sale.”
“It’s the home they loved, the home their father loved and where they can still connect with him,” a family member revealed.
The singer, who broke down upon hearing the news his good friend passed, would be a perfect buyer for the property. John and his husband David Furnish could purchase the home playground for their two young sons, Zachary and Elijah.
Last year saw a lot of potential buyers interested in Jackson’s home but the most notorious was Lady Gaga, who said she wanted to buy Neverland and give it to Jackson’s children.
With two young sons of her own, the pop singer would feel right at home in the paradise created by Jackson, whom she sang with for his 30th anniversary concert at Madison Square Garden.
In 2004, MTV reported Eminem was looking to buy Neverland as a “nice area in which to raise his daughter, Hailie Jade.” But now that’s she’s all grown up and off to college, Marshall Mathers would be by his lonesome at the property.