Michael Jackson’s Neverland Ranch Sells to Billionaire Ron Burkle Nearly One Year After Death of Son

Virginia Chamlee
·2 min read

Michael Jackson's famous Neverland Ranch has found a new owner, five years after hitting the market and after numerous price cuts and a rebranding that sought to distance the property from its controversial past.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the property sold to billionaire Ron Burkle for $22 million.

Located in Los Olivos, CA., "Neverland," as it came to be known, was first purchased by the singer in 1987 for $19.5 million.

Jackson lived there for 15 years, adding a number of features seemingly inspired by the Peter Pan-like ideology of never growing up: a 50-seat movie theatre, zoo, train, amusement park rides, train and railroad tracks among them.

Following the pop singer's 2005 trial for alleged child molestation, he began to distance himself from the property.

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In 2008, amid well-reported financial struggles, Neverland's ownership became a joint venture between Colony Capital LLC and Jackson, in a deal that helped the King of Pop avert a foreclosure sale.

After Jackson's 2009 death from cardiac arrest, the property's future was again in limbo.

In 2015, it was put on the market for $100 million under a new name — Sycamore Valley Ranch — and without many of the quirky flourishes that Jackson had installed (theme park rides, for instance, were removed from the property).

Over the next five years, it would be discounted several times, listing at a drastically-reduced $31 million and with a new listing agent in February 2019.

The re-listing came as Jackson's estate became embroiled in a legal battle with HBO over its bombshell Leaving Neverland documentary.

In February 2020, the listing was pulled after it failed to sell.

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The property managed to sell regardless of a listing, however, with the Journal reporting that Neverland sold in a "land bank opportunity" transaction to billionaire businessman Burkle.

Burkle, 68, is a co-founder of The Yucaipa Companies, a co-owner of the Penguins hockey team and an investor in a slew of big-name tech companies, such as Uber and Airbnb. According to Forbes, he is worth some $1.5 billion.

He's also the co-owner of Soho House, a chain of celeb-frequented private clubs with locations throughout the world. He had reportedly been searching for a new "retreat" outpost for the resort chain when he spotted Neverland from the air.

According to the Journal, Burkle called Tom Barrack, the founder of Colony Capital (which still owned the property jointly with Jackson's estate) to see if he could purchase it. The paper notes that the property was not publicly listed at the time.

The news comes nearly one year after Burkle's son, Andrew, died at the age of 26.