Neverland Ranch, the 2,700-acre abandoned fantasyland and estate built by King of Pop Michael Jackson is poised to hit the open market. A little background: according to Forbes writer and Jacko expert Zack O'Malley Greenburg, in 2007 Jackson "struck a deal" with billionaire Tom Barrack's Colony Capital to co-manage the property, but as the years went on and maintenance costs mounted (estimates are as high as $5M a year), Colony Capital's investment overtook that of Jackson's estate. In the five years after the singer's death options for the estate were explored, including potentially turning it into an attraction akin to Elvis' Graceland, but because of land use and zoning restrictions (not to mention depleting finances), none of the alternatives to selling the property in Los Olivos, California, were workable. Plus, as O'Malley Greenburg writes, "its narrow mountain roads aren't conducive to accommodating hundreds of thousands of visitors a year."
Reps for the Jackson estate insist selling the property was the only way, though they "are frustrated, bitterly disappointed and saddened that it has come to this."Jackson bought Neverland in 1988 from golf course bigwig William Bone and spent years souping it up with things like a roller coaster, Ferris wheel, train, and fire department. According to photographers who snuck onto the property and then were interviewed by Vice, there was also a jumble of items left behind, things like "weird mirrors on this four-foot by four-foot platform" and "an eight-foot-tall oil painting of Michael Jackson himself." As of 2003, the estate boasted 22 buildings, including guest and staff houses and stables.
It's not known how much Jackson's estate will ask, though Forbes writes that "back-of-the-envelope math suggests the firm may have invested more than $50M in the property to date." Who knows, maybe Beyoncé and Jay-Z will be interested in the property, as was once reported, after all. Stay tuned.