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Mansion area in south, February 2008


Neverland Valley Ranch (formerly the Sycamore Valley Ranch)is a developed property in Santa Barbara County, Californiamarker, most famous for being a home of Americanmarker entertainer Michael Jackson from 1988 to 2005. It is named after Neverland, the fantasy island in the story of Peter Pan, a boy who never grows up. The ranch is located about five miles (8 km) north of unincorporated Los Olivosmarker, and about eight miles (13 km) north of the town of Santa Ynezmarker.

Midland, a college prep boarding school, is the southerly neighbor and also separates it from the Los Padres National Forestmarker just east of the ranch; the Chamberlin Ranch is to the west, and the rugged La Laguna Ranch, where the Zaca Fire began, is to the north. The Santa Barbara County Assessor's office says the ranch is approximately . It is currently owned by the Sycamore Valley Ranch Company, LLC.

Michael Jackson residence

Train station, July 2009
Amusement rides, August 2008
Jackson purchased the property from golf course entrepreneur William Bone in 1988 for a sum variously reported to be $16.5 to $30 million. It was Jackson's home and private amusement park and contained, among other things, a floral clock, numerous statues of children, and a zoo. The amusement park included two railroads: one 36" gauge with a steam locomotive (Crown 4-4-0, built 1973, with 4 coaches) and the other a 24" gauge amusement train ride-type); and a Ferris Wheel, Carousel, Zipper, Octopus, Pirate Ship, Wave Swinger, Super Slide, dragon wagon kiddie roller coaster and bumper cars.

During his residency there, Jackson brought groups of children and their families to the facility as day visitors. He also hosted various children overnight, a practice which came under scrutiny when Jackson was accused of sexual misconduct with minors at the ranch, first in 1993 and again in 2003.

Jackson said in 2005 that he would not return to the property, saying he no longer considered the ranch a home, feeling the 70 police officers had "violated" it in their searches. In 2006 the facilities were closed and most of the staff dismissed, with a spokesperson stating that this was a reflection of the fact that Jackson no longer lived there.

Financial status

Foreclosure proceedings commenced against Neverland Ranch on October 22, 2007. However, a spokesperson for Jackson said that the loan was merely being refinanced.

Former zoo buildings, July 2009
On February 25, 2008, Jackson received word from Financial Title Company, the trustee, that unless he paid off $24,525,906.61 by March 19, a public auction would go forward of the land, buildings, and other items such as the rides, trains, and art. On March 13, 2008, Jackson's lawyer L. Londell McMillan announced that a private agreement had been reached with the private investment group, Fortress Investment, to save Jackson's ownership of the ranch. Before the agreement, Jackson owed three months' arrears on the property. McMillan did not reveal the details of the deal.

On May 12, 2008, a foreclosure auction for the ranch was canceled after an investment company, Colony Capital LLC, purchased the loan, which was in default. In a press release, Jackson stated, "I am pleased with recent developments involving Neverland Ranch and I am in discussions with Colony and Tom Barrack with regard to the Ranch and other matters that would allow me to focus on the future."

On November 10, 2008, Jackson transferred the title to Sycamore Valley Ranch Company, LLC, and neighbors reported immediate activity on the property, including the amusement rides being trucked along the highway. Jackson still owned an unknown stake in the property, since Sycamore Valley Ranch was a joint venture between Jackson (represented by McMillan) and an affiliate of Colony Capital LLC (an investment company run by billionaire Tom Barrack). The Santa Barbara Countymarker Assessor's Office stated Jackson sold an unknown proportion of his property rights for $35 million.

Death of Michael Jackson

Fans visiting the makeshift memorial set up outside the Neverland Ranch entrance shortly after Jackson's death.


Following Jackson's death, press reports during June 28–29, 2009 claimed that his family intended to bury him at the Neverland Ranch, eventually turning it into a place of pilgrimage for his fans, similar to how Gracelandmarker has become a destination for fans of Elvis Presley. However, the singer's father Joseph Jackson later denied the reports. Construction equipment and gardeners entered the grounds on July 1, prompting speculation that preparations were being made for something related to Jackson's death, but local officials stated that a burial there would not be lawful. Jackson's 2002 will gives his entire estate to a family trust.

The ranch was the setting for two media appearances on July 2, 2009. Jermaine Jackson took The Today Show's Matt Lauer on a tour of the main house, and he was interviewed on the grounds of the house by Larry King for his show.

References

  1. "Neverland Never More", by William Etling (author of Sideways in Neverland: Life in the Santa Ynez Valley), EdHat.com, 2009, webpage: Ed52.
  2. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-1100646/Michael-Jackson-silences-rumours-money-trouble-renting-100-000-month-mansion.html
  3. Notice of Trustee's Sale, Santa Barbara County Recorder via Fox News Record no. 2008-0010131, February 25, 2008
  4. Michael Jackson's Neverland ranch is sold
  5. tmz.com, Neverland May Be Jacko's Ticket to Vegas
  6. ukpress.google.com, Jacko gives up Neverland ranch deed
  7. http://www.forbes.com/2009/04/14/michael-jackson-auction-lifestyle-collecting-michael-jackson.html
  8. eonline.com, Michael Jackson Lets Neverland Fly Away
  9. www.smh.com.au, Neverland peters out for pop's Peter Pan
  10. [1] The Daily Mirror June 28 2008
  11. [2] The Daily Mail 28 June 2009
  12. [3] Billboard report June 28 2009
  13. [4] New Musical Express 29 June 2009
  14. [5] MTV website June 29 2009
  15. [6]


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