Michael Jackson knew how to turn heads. From those military jackets, hairstyles, and of course, the pet monkey and more and his Neverland Ranch. But, now that the Beat It singer is gone, what has happened to his fantastical home and play place?
MJ and Neverland Ranch
The Sycamore Valley Ranch, referred to most famously as Neverland Ranch by the late singer since 1988, was initially called Zaca Laderas Ranch. The property developer, William Bone, changed the name to Sycamore Valley Ranch when he moved onto the property with his family. The ranch is located in Santa Barbara County, California, on the edge of Los Padres National Forest. The property itself spans for about 2,800 acres. Jackson’s first time seeing the park when he visited founding Beatles member Paul McCartney when the two were filming their ‘Say Say Say’ music video in the early 80s.
Jackson bought the ranch from Bone in 1988. While the full amount has remained undisclosed, speculations range from just under 20 million to 30 million dollars. The astronomical asking price came from the property perks such as the sizeable floral clock, petting zoo, and total private amusement part on the property complete with a roller coaster, bumper cars, Ferris wheel, carousel, arcade and more. The 12,598 square foot house features six bedrooms, nine bathrooms, a pool, pool house, tennis court, movie theater, and multiple barns. Oh, and let’s not forget the three separate guest houses.
Michael Jackson’s Neverland Ranch is named after the fictitious island from the story of Peter Pan. As many of us know, it was a place where children never grew up. It’s speculated that since he never quite had a chance to experience a real childhood after growing up in the spotlight as a performer that this one of the ways he attempted to regain it. He entertained adults and young guests alike. Oprah Winfrey interviewed the Thriller singer on the property in 1993, Elizabeth Taylor and Larry Fortensky married there in 1991, and in 1995, he and Lisa Marie Presley, to whom he was wed for a short time, hosted a world children’s event.
Bursting the Neverland Bubble
As explored in Leaving Neverland, the HBO special, during Jackson’s time on the ranch, those painfully infamous child molestation charges against Jackson were filed. Two men, sho say they visited the pop star at the ranch as children in the eighties and nineties respectively allege that they were molested by the singer. After the investigation and trial (of which Jackson was later acquitted) in 2006, Jackson moved off of the property. He no longer felt the ranch was home and didn’t return after the trial. The ranch was shut down, and the staff was released form their occupation contracts.
The Fate of Neverland Ranch
Following Jackson’s death, the fate of the property has been finicky. At one time, reports swirled that his family decided to bury him on the property, not unlike Elvis and Graceland. This did not end up happening. In 2010, it was reported that the singer’s children would buy the property, this didn’t happen either. By 2013 the animals and amusement rides were gone and replaced with a zen garden. In 2015, the ranch’s name was returned to Sycamore Valley Ranch, with the intention of selling it at $100 million. After years of emptiness, renovations, and bouncing in and out of the real estate market, the houses’ selling price was reduced to just $31 million in February of last year. It remains part of the Jackson estate, but it co-owned by Colony Capital. The Neverland Ranch is nevermore and waits patiently for its next tenants.