Michael Jackson's Neverland Ranch, sold for 22 million to a US tycoon

Michael Jackson's Neverland Ranch, sold for 22 million to a US tycoon

Michael Jackson's former Neverland ranch in California was sold to US billionaire Ron Burkle, his spokesman said, at a sharply discounted price of about $ 22 million.

The late King of Pop turned his massive mansion into a fairytale-themed haven, complete with toy railroad, Ferris wheel and orangutans, and wrote some of his top hits there.

But Neverland was also the infamous place Jackson invited children to visit and sleep in, and the scene of alleged child sexual abuse, according to allegations against him.

Following Jackson's death, it was renamed Sycamore Valley Ranch in 2009.

Burkle, a Montana businessman with investments ranging from supermarkets to the entertainment industry, bought the ranch "as a 'land banking' opportunity," his spokeswoman said in reference to acquiring land for long-term investment.

The $ 22 million price he reported would mean a massive drop from the ranch's initial price of $ 100 million in 2015.

That juicy figure, considered "bullish" by real estate agents even at the time, dropped to $ 31 million last year, but the ranch remained unsold and was taken off the market.

Burkle was flying over the region recently to explore a neighboring property, likely to host a new branch of his Soho House network of private clubs, when he spotted the ranch, after which he contacted its owner, according to the spokesperson.

Michael Jackson reportedly paid $ 19.5 million for the property in the 1980s. Thomas Barrack Jr.'s investment firm Colony Capital bought the ranch from the singer, then heavily in debt, for $ 22.5 million the year before. his death.

Burkle had previously served as the singer's advisor on business matters, including settling debts incurred by his lavish lifestyle in the years leading up to his passing.

The 1,100 hectare farm, located 65 kilometers from Santa Barbara, features a main house with six bedrooms and three guest houses, a lake with a waterfall, tennis courts, several barns and animal shelter facilities.

Jackson's ranch was raided in 2003 as part of a child abuse case against him, and police seized a large repertoire of pornography and images of naked children. Jackson was acquitted of the case in 2005.

Last year, the HBO documentary "Leaving Neverland" aired testimonies from two men claiming that Jackson sexually abused them as children on the ranch, including the attic, master bedroom and pool.

Jackson's estate, who sued HBO for $ 100 million for the "posthumous murder of a character," deny all allegations, as Jackson did in his lifetime.