Michael Jackson’s Neverland Ranch in California has found a new owner in billionaire businessman Ron Burkle.
- The property sold for $28.96 million but had an asking price of $131.5 million four years ago
- Mr Burkle, the co-founder of an investment firm, was an associate of Jackson
- He views the property as a land banking (future investment) opportunity, according to a spokesman
The Wall Street Journal reported the property was sold for $US22 million ($28.96 million) to Mr Burkle, an associate of the late pop star and co-founder of the investment firm Yucaipa Companies.
The asking price of the property was $US100 million ($131 million) in 2016 then dropped to $US67 million ($88 million) a year later.
When the property was put on sale in 2015 real estate experts said the asking price was “optimistic” given the unproven charges of child molestation which tainted Jackson’s final years before his death in 2009.
In addition to a 1161 square metres main residence and a 344 square-metre pool house, the property boasts a separate building with a 50-seat movie theatre and a dance studio.
Other features on the ranch are a Disney-style train station, a fire house and barn.
Mr Burkle views the 1,093 hectare property in Los Olivos, near Santa Barbara, as a land banking (future investment) opportunity, his spokesman said.
His spokesman said the billionaire had been eyeing Zaca Lake — which adjoins the property — for a new Soho House, a members-only club with locations in Los Angeles, Miami, New York and Toronto.
He ultimately decided the location was too remote and expensive for a club.
Mr Burkle is the controlling shareholder of Soho House.
After Mr Burkle saw the property from the air, he put in an offer to purchase.
Last year, the documentary Leaving Neverland chronicled alleged incidents of child molestation by the King of Pop at the property.
The detailed allegations of abuse lead to radio stations pulling Jackson’s songs from rotation and the Simpsons pulling an episode featuring the pop star from all future broadcasts.
According to the LA Times, the previous owner of the estate was Thomas Barrack Jr’s Colony Capital.