Since the death of Michael Jackson in 2009, the fate of his Neverland Ranch has been the subject of wild speculation. Everyone from PETA (who wanted it turned into an animal sanctuary) to a California politician (who wanted it to become a state park) has offered suggestions. And then there were the fans who wanted nothing more than the home of the late pop star to be turned into a memorial on par with Elvis Presley's Graceland. Now it appears, any one of them will get their chance to pursue their vision: Neverland will shortly be officially for sale.
Forbes is reporting that Colony Capital, which entered into an ownership partnership of Neverland Ranch with Jackson in 2007, is preparing to place the 3000-acre estate on the open market. The language of the deal struck with the then-financially-struggling pop star meant that for every dollar Colony invested into Neverland, its equity would increase and Jackson's would decrease. Evidence of that investment can be seen today - with the estate having been revived to the tune of an estimated $50M since the partnership took effect.
“Our plans have been to work to restore it to its original greatness,” Colony Capital’s Tom Barrack told Bloomberg TV in 2011. “The place is amazing. It has not only the beautiful spirit and softness of Michael, but a legacy of a thousand years of Indian culture that had transacted upon it. We have just been restoring it, renovating it.”
Forbes estimates that upkeep of the ranch - including it's 22 buildings - likely totals $5M per year. That bill, coupled with buyback of Colony's ownership and any further investments to turn the estate into a public attraction, made Jackson's estate decide not to pursue a purchase.
“We are frustrated, bitterly disappointed and saddened that it has come to this,” said a representative for Jackson’s estate told Forbes. “Sadly, Michael lost control of Neverland during his life as a result of advice from a former manager.”
"The Estate explored numerous options, including a purchase," the rep added. "But financial, land use and zoning restrictions have made all of the proposed options prohibitive given our duty as Executors to be fiscally responsible in protecting and growing the assets of the Estate for Michael’s children."
Estimates provided to Bloomberg, place the market value of Neverland Ranch at somewhere between $35M-$60M; though it's likely the property could go for much higher.
“We hope and trust that any new owners of Neverland will respect the historical importance and special nature of this wonderful property,” Jackson's estate told the site.
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