Michael Jackson’s Neverland ranch on sale for $131 million

Neverland, the sprawling California ranch that was once the location of “King of Pop” Michael Jackson’s mind-boggling amusement park, is up for sale for $131 million, real estate agents say.

But an expert said the price tag was “optimistic,” given the unproven charges of child molestation which tainted Jackson’s final years before his death in 2009.

The late star built up his Neverland Ranch on 1,000 hectares outside Santa Barbara to include zoo animals, numerous amusement rides and lavish gardens.

It has 22 buildings, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The animals have been removed, save for a single llama, and the property has changed hands and is now called the Sycamore Valley Ranch.

An online property listing included pictures of the Normandy-style property, complete with pools and fountains, bridges and a decorative shrubbery with the name Neverland spelled out above a floral clock face.

An investment firm renovated the property and several real estate agents are looking for a buyer at the listing price of $131 million.

But experts said the sellers may struggle to reach their asking price, because of the property’s former owner’s tainted reputation.

“There is obviously a lot of affection for him and his talent,” Randall Bell, a specialist in valuing stigmatised properties, told the Los Angeles Times.

“But it’s hard to get by the fact that Neverland is closely associated with child molestation.

“I think US$100 million is very optimistic.”

The property was bought about six years ago for $22.5 million by Thomas Barrack Jr’s Colony Capital, the LA Times said.

The property includes a massive six-bedroom main house, a movie theatre and stage.

Jackson, considered by some to be the greatest pop artist of all time, wrote some of his top hits on the ranch.

But the ranch was also the infamous location where Jackson invited children to visit and sleep over and where he was accused of molesting young boys.

He was never found guilty in court, but the charges engulfed Jackson in the mid-2000s before the singer-songwriter died in 2009.

The Wall Street Journal reported that tours of the property will not be given.

At the time of his death Jackson was planning a global comeback tour to help him stave off bankruptcy, five years after being acquitted of child molestation charges that left his career in tatters.

He had debts of up to $500 million before his death, but in the five years since his executors have earned more than $700 million, according to a book, Michael Jackson Inc, published last year.

Money-making ventures have included the This Is It movie of rehearsals for the doomed tour, a touring Cirque du Soleil stage show and two posthumous albums.

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