A former billionaire ally of Michael Jackson has bought the Neverland Ranch, the former home of the pop star.
The Wall Street Journal reported that Ronald W., co-founder of the investment firm Yucaipa Company. Berkeley bought the farm for $ 22 million.
A spokesman for Mr. Berkeley, who previously served as financial advisor for Mr. Jackson, said he saw the investment as an opportunity for land banking. Mr. Berkeley made his initial fortune buying and selling supermarkets in California. He is also the co-owner of the Pittsburgh Penguins hockey franchise.
Mr. Jackson purchased the Ranch, 2,700-acre property in Los Olivos, California, 125 miles northwest of Los Angeles, in 1988 for about $ 17 million. He named it Neverland Ranch after Peter Pan, the boy’s legendary island home. Who never grew up.
Under Mr. Jackson’s instruction, the property was converted into an entertainment complex at a cost of $ 35 million, complete with a zoo, a train, an amusement park that included a Ferris wheel and a 50-seat theater.
The property includes a 13,000-square-foot French country main house, as well as other buildings.
In 2008, Neverland was virtually pressurized after Mr Jackson was owed on assets of $ 24.5 million. Colony Capital LLC, a Los Angeles real estate investment company, held title to the property in a joint venture with Mr. Jackson.
Prior to his death in 2009, Mr Jackson faced numerous allegations that he molested young boys, with some acts occurring in Neverland, according to his allegations. A case went to trial in 2005; He was acquitted after 14 weeks. He died four years later, when he hoped he would revive his career for a concert date. After the 2005 trial, Mr. Jackson never returned to live on his farm.
A documentary that debuted at the Sundance Film Festival in 2019, “Except Neverland”, rekindled speculation about the allegations.
Months after the documentary was shown, a legal dispute between HBO and the Jackson Estate claimed that the cable channel violated an old contract showing the documentary, claiming that it “would not make any disparaging remarks about Mr. Jackson.” “
In December, HBO lost the appeal of a court ruling that granted the estate’s motion to take the dispute to arbitration, according to Variety.
The property has been on the market since 2015, despite speculation that it would be used as a memorial to Mr. Jackson, similar to Elvis Presley’s Grayskland. But the amusement park ride was scrapped and it was reported by the Seacamore Valley Ranch, The Journal.
In 2016, the asking price was $ 100 million, but the following year it was reduced to $ 67 million.
Stacey Brown, an author of “Michael Jackson: The Man Behind the Mask”, said he used to be close to the Jackson family and visited the farm several times.
He said that Mr. Jackson was hospitable and that Ranch “did it all.” Mr. Brown said that a statue of Butler had a guest book on the wrench, signed by many Hollywood celebrities.
“It was a great place, but many people would say it was a place where children were abused, and I didn’t disagree,” said Mr. Brown, a witness to Mr. Jackson’s 2005 prosecution Was. matter. He said that he never saw Mr. Jackson as malicious.
“What a shame it came to this, and what a shame that Michael is dead,” he said. The sale of Neverland is a sad day for the Jackson family. It is truly such a wonderful legacy that ends. “
Christina Morales Contributed to reporting.