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Neverland sold for US$22m


Neverland sold for US$22m
Michael Jackson bought the estate in 1987 but struggled to pay for it. (BBC)

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California – The Neverland ranch of the late pop star Michael Jackson has reportedly been sold to a billionaire investor for a quarter of its initial asking price.

Ron Burkle, a former friend of Jackson, recently bought the estate in Los Olivos, California, his spokesman said.

He paid US$22m (£16.2m) for Neverland, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing public records and three people familiar with the deal.

The 2 700-acre (1 100 hectare) compound was first listed for US$100m in 2015.

Since then Neverland, north of Santa Barbara city, has been on and off the market, listed most recently last year for the lower price of US$31m.

Jackson originally paid about US$19.5m for Neverland, which he named after a fictional island where children never grow up in ‎JM Barrie’s Peter Pan story.

The Thriller singer bought Neverland in 1987, making it his home during the height of his fame.

He turned the ranch into an entertainment complex, building a zoo and fairground on site, where he regularly entertained children and their families.

In the 1990s and 2000s, Neverland became the centre of various investigations into child sexual assault allegations against Jackson.

Jackson denied allegations by Santa Barbara prosecutors that he had used Neverland as a fantasy world to groom young boys.

In 2005, Jackson was tried and acquitted of allegations he abused a 13-year-old boy at the ranch. (BBC)