LOS ANGELES: Neverland, the sprawling California ranch that was once the location of “King of Pop” Michael Jackson’s mind-boggling amusement park, is up for sale for $100 million, realtors said Friday.
But an expert said the price tag is “optimistic,” given the unproven charges of child molestation which tainted Jackson’s final years before his death in 2009.
The late star built up his Neverland Ranch on 2,700 acres outside Santa Barbara to include zoo animals, numerous amusement rides and lavish gardens. It has 22 buildings.
The animals have been removed, save for a single llama, and the property has changed hands and is now called the Sycamore Valley Ranch.
An online property listing included pictures of the Normandy-mansion property, complete with pools and fountains, bridges and a decorative shrubbery with the name “Neverland” spelled out above a beflowered clock face.
An investment firm renovated the property and several real estate agents are looking for a buyer at the listing price of a cool $100 million.
But experts said the sellers may struggle to reach their asking price, because of the property’s former owner’s tainted reputation.
“There is obviously a lot of affection for him and his talent,” Randall Bell, a specialist in valuing stigmatized properties, said.
“But it’s hard to get by the fact that Neverland is closely associated with child molestation. I think $100 million is very optimistic,” he said.
The property was bought around six years ago for $22.5 million by Thomas Barrack Jr.’s Colony Capital.
The property includes a massive six-bedroom main house, a movie theatre and stage.
Jackson, considered by some to be the greatest pop artist of all time, wrote some of his top hits on the ranch.
But the ranch was also the infamous location where Jackson invited children to visit and sleep over and where he was accused of molesting young boys.
He was never found guilty in court, but the charges engulfed Jackson in the mid-2000s before the singer songwriter died in 2009.
At the time of his death Jackson was planning a global comeback tour to help him stave off bankruptcy, five years after being acquitted of child molestation charges that left his career in tatters.
He had debts of up to $500 million before his death, but in the five years since, his executors have earned more than $700 million, according to a book published last year, “Michael Jackson Inc.”
Money-making ventures have included the “This is It” movie of rehearsals for the doomed tour, a touring Cirque du Soleil stage show and two posthumous albums so far, with more to come.