Billionaire Ron Burkle, co-founder of investment firm Yucaipa Companies and a former associate of Jackson, has purchased the Los Olivos, Calif., property for $22 million, the Wall Street Journal reports.
Beyond snagging himself roughly 2,700 acres and a nearly 12,000-square-foot mansion — among the many structures on the estate — Burkle also got a deal. The estate first hit the market in 2015 for a whopping $100 million.
From that point forward, the spread languished on the market. In 2017, it returned for sale asking $67 million following a massive $33 million price cut. In 2019, it was listed for $31 million, the Journal added.
Beyond the property’s sprawling scale, it is also jam-packed with amenities — such as a 50-seat movie theater, a basketball court and several guesthouses — which have long been the subject of dark stories.
Jackson, who died at age 50 in 2009 from an acute drug overdose, stopped visiting Neverland following his 2005 acquittal on child molestation charges. While for sale, Neverland was renamed Sycamore Valley Ranch in an apparent effort to shed the property of its disturbing legacy. Jackson bought it for some $19.5 million in 1987, and famously gave it “Peter Pan” fantasy touches by adding an amusement park, which has since been removed.
Jackson’s estate then co-owned Neverland with a fund managed by real estate investment trust Colony Capital. According to the Journal, Jackson defaulted on a loan backed by the ranch and Colony bought the note in 2008, which put the title into a joint venture. Burkle was an advisor to Jackson on business matters in the mid-2000s, the Journal added, at a time when Jackson sought to prevent financial downfall due in part to his lavish lifestyle.
The property is located 30 minutes from downtown Santa Barbara and holds 22 structures in total, including a three-bedroom guesthouse with a fireplace.Facebook
A spokesman for Mr. Burkle described the transaction as “a land bank opportunity,” noting that Mr. Burkle, though a resident of Montana, already owns roughly 1,000 acres in Oak Glen, Calif. Mr. Burkle had been eyeing Zaca Lake, which adjoins the property, for a new retreat location for Soho House, the private club company he co-owns, his spokesman said. While he ultimately decided that location was too remote for the retreat, he saw Mr. Jackson’s former ranch from the air and called Tom Barrack, founder of Colony Capital, directly to ask if he would sell it. The property had been taken off the market and was not publicly listed at the time.
Mr. Burkle is a well-known architecture lover and has owned several significant homes, including the Ennis House in Los Angeles, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, which he sold for $18 million last year after completing a $10 million restoration project. He also owns a John Lautner home in the Palm Springs area, which was designed and built in the 1970s for Bob and Dolores Hope, records show.