Michael Jackson's Neverland Ranch just hit the market, the Wall Street Journal reports.
Details so far are fairly scant, but one certainly jumps out: The asking price is $100 million -- "very optimistic," the Los Angeles Times is told by one Randall Bell, a "specialist in evaluating stigmatized properties."
"It's hard to get by the fact that Neverland is closely associated with child molestation," Bell tells the Times. (Indeed, a fascinating Times story during Jackson's 2005 trial was headlined "Neverland: Paradise or Trap?" and characterized the ranch as "a shrine to innocence or a shortcut to depravity.")
The county assesses it at about $30 million.
Jackson created Neverland from what was once known as Sycamore Valley Ranch — the name that it has resumed, according to the listing agents. He lost control of it amid financial problems not long before his 2009 death.
Its 2,700-odd acres lie outside Santa Barbara in Los Olivos, California. The six-bedroom main house has about 12,000 square feet of living space; there are also about 20 other buildings on the property, listing agent Suzanne Perkins told the Wall Street Journal.
Sycamore Valley Ranch was built in 1981 by developer William Bone, who is known especially for his golf course properties. He sold it to Jackson in 1988 for $19.5 million.
Jackson is said to have put upward of $30 million into Neverland improvements, including an amusement park, a train, animal menageries and more. Most of those additions are gone now -- though the Journal notes without elaborating that "there is currently a llama on the property."
Investment firm Colony Capital, led by Tom Barrack, bought out the $23 million mortgage in 2008 when foreclosure threatened Jackson. Colony and Jackson formed what was intended to be a joint business venture, but he died the next year at age 50. It's Colony that is now selling Neverland.
"Our seller is not encouraging a lot of showings," listing agent Jeff Hyland told the Journal, and his colleague Suzanne Perkins concurred: "We're not going to be giving tours."
Time magazine says that "the person selling the ranch is specifically looking for a buyer who doesn't plan to turn the place into a museum for the singer," but Yahoo Homes was not able to confirm or corroborate Time's claim.
Yahoo Homes could not reach Hyland or Perkins for comment; their offices instead referred us to a public relations firm, which said that no one would be commenting on the story.
However, we did reach the third listing agent, Harry Kolb of Sotheby's, who -- when we mentioned that he must be deluged with media interest -- acknowledged with a laugh, "It's a wonderful storm."
Then he referred us to the PR firm.
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