The neighbour who bailed out Michael Jackson by picking up the $US23 million mortgage ($30.1m) on his fantasy ranch, Neverland, when the singer got into financial difficulties is to sell the California property despite opposition from Jackson’s family.
Thomas Barrack, the multi-millionaire founder of Colony Capital, an investment company, is asking $US75m ($98m) for the ranch 100 miles northwest of Los Angeles.
Barrack, who has rescued other financially troubled celebrities such as the photographer Annie Leibovitz and has bought “distressed” properties from Las Vegas to Asia, expected Jackson to pay him back after a series of concerts in London.
At the time of his death Jackson had already turned his back on Neverland, claiming that it felt “violated” after 70 police officers searched the ranch for evidence of child abuse, charges on which he was later acquitted.
The superstar died from a sleeping drug overdose on the eve of his London shows in June 2009 before sorting out the bills for Neverland, which costs $US5m ($6.55m) a year to run. Its private zoo has since been dispersed and the fairground rides, where Jackson would entertain children, have been sold off.
Katherine Jackson, the singer’s mother, after whom he named one of two railway engines that puffed around the 2,700-acre mountainside estate, proposed turning it into a Jackson memorial park, similar to Graceland, the money-spinning Memphis home of Elvis Presley.
Lady Gaga offered to back a proposal for the ranch from Jackson’s daughter Paris-Michael Katherine, who paid for the planting of a meditation garden decorated with pictures of Peter Pan — her father’s hero who inspired the renaming of the estate when he moved there in 1988.
Paris, who was 17 on Friday, wanted to preserve the ranch as a refuge for sick children but could not afford to keep it running.
The teenager was spotted walking there after overdosing on pills two years ago.
The Jackson estate has earned around $US750m ($983m) since the singer’s death, but is still tussling with the US internal revenue service over taxes. The government claims it is owed $US700m.
Like this article or found it helpful? Share it!