News Column

Going for a song Neverland up for sale

August 2, 2014

Hannah Ellis-Petersen

It was once a sprawling toy town, containing carnival rides, artificial lake and a zoo that housed a five-ton elephant and an orangutan named Patrick.

Now Michael Jackson'sNeverland Ranch is up for sale for the first time since it was acquired by the star in 1988 and, despite being valued at $30m (pounds 18m) by California property experts, could fetch between $75m and $85m.

The 1,040-hectare (2,570-acre) California ranch, including a seven-bedroom mock-Tudor mansion, was bought by Jackson from golf course entrepreneur William Bone and developed into a childhood fantasy with carousel, dodgems and drive-in cinema. The singer named it after Peter Pan's fictional home where children never grew up.

Neverland will reportedly be put on the market by Colony Capital, which bought a $23.5m stake in the property just before Jackson's death in 2009, and therefore have the rights to sell.

The house had recently been restored at the behest of Jackson's 17-year-old daughter, Paris, after it had fallen into disrepair. The fairground was replaced with a Zen garden and the pools and fountains refilled. However, upkeep of the sprawling Los Olivos estate is reckoned to cost $5m a year.

Thomas Barrack Jr of Colony Capital told Bloomberg he wanted it to stay as "an enduring tribute to Michael Jackson", but the Jackson family expressed disappointment at the sale. "We are frustrated and saddened that it has come to this," said a representative.

Photograph: Karl Schoendorfer/Rex

Guests of Michael Jackson ride on one of the amusement park attractions at his Neverland ranch in California in 2004

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Source: Guardian (UK)

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