Michael Jackson's Neverland ranch: Where is it and what happened to it?

6 July 2020, 11:23 | Updated: 11 September 2020, 12:30

Michael Jackson's crumbling ranch now faces demolition
Michael Jackson's crumbling ranch now faces demolition. Picture: Splash/Getty

By Tom Eames

Michael Jackson lived at this Neverland ranch for many years, but what has happened to it in recent years?

Since his sudden death in 2009, Michael Jackson's famous Neverland ranch has been lying empty.

News has now emerged that despite the 2,800-acre Californian property previously being put on the market for $100 million, it now faces demolition and is off the market and unavailable to buyers.

See more: Michael Jackson's daughter Paris releases unseen footage of her father ahead of music debut

The huge ranch received fresh attention due to the documentary Leaving Neverland - which alleged Michael Jackson sexually abused two boys two decades ago, despite attempts from Jackson's family and estate to block it.

The famous floral Neverland sign at the ranch now lies overgrown and unkept
The famous floral Neverland sign at the ranch now lies overgrown and unkept. Picture: Splash
The train station at Neverland ranch is now dilapidated and uncared for
The train station at Neverland ranch is now dilapidated and uncared for. Picture: Splash

Michael Jackson lived at Neverland for 15 years after buying it in 1988 for between $19.5 million and $30 million .

But where is Neverland and who owns it now?

  1. Where is Neverland?

    The home is a developed property in Santa Barbara County, California.

    It is located at 5225 Figueroa Mountain Road, Los Olivos, California 93441, on the edge of Los Padres National Forest.

    The Santa Barbara County Assessor's office says the ranch is approximately 2,800 acres (1100 hectares).

    The ranch was Michael Jackson's pride and joy. Pictured, Neverland's private train station when the singer was still alive
    The ranch was Michael Jackson's pride and joy. Pictured, Neverland's private train station when the singer was still alive. Picture: Splash
  2. Why was it called Neverland?

    It was first named Neverland in 1988, and was most famous for being the home of Michael Jackson.

    Jackson named the property after Neverland, the fantasy island in the story of Peter Pan, a boy who never grows up.

    His first encounter with the ranch came when he visited Sir Paul McCartney, who was staying there during the filming of their 'Say Say Say' video.

    Neverland Ranch
    Picture: Getty
  3. What happened at Neverland when Michael Jackson lived there?

    The estate was originally known as the Zaca Laderas Ranch, when bought by property developer William Bone in 1977. Bone renamed the estate the Sycamore Valley Ranch and moved there with his family.

    Michael Jackson purchased the estate from Bone in 1988 for an undisclosed amount. Some sources indicate it was $19.5 million, while others suggest it was closer to $30 million.

    Not only was it Jackson's home, but it was also his private amusement park and it also featured a floral clock, artistic garden statues, and a petting zoo.

    It also housed two railroads: one 3 ft narrow gauge named 'Neverland Valley Railroad' with a steam locomotive named Katherine after his mother, and the other a 2 ft narrow gauge with a locomotive named CP Huntington made by Chance Rides.

    Michael Jackson with James Safechuck in 1988
    Michael Jackson with James Safechuck in 1988. Picture: Getty

    There was also a Ferris wheel, Carousel, Zipper, Octopus, Pirate Ship, Wave Swinger, Super Slide, roller coaster, bumper cars, and an amusement arcade. The master closet also housed a secret safe room for security.

    Events that took place at the Ranch included: the wedding of Elizabeth Taylor and Larry Fortensky in 1991, the live Oprah Winfrey interview of Jackson in 1993, and an event in 1995 where Jackson and Lisa Marie Presley hosted children from around the world.

    Neverland Ranch was searched by police in connection with the a trial, after he was charged with multiple counts of molesting a child in 2003. Jackson was later acquitted of all charges.

  4. When did Michael Jackson move out of Neverland?

    After the trial, Jackson said he would never live at the property again, as he no longer considered the ranch a home and never returned there.

    He said he felt the 70 police officers had "violated" the property. In 2006, the facilities were closed down and most of the staff were let go.

  5. What happened to Neverland and who owns it now?

    After Jackson's death, reports claimed that his family intended to bury him at Neverland, and turning it into a place of pilgrimage for his fans, much like what Graceland is to Elvis Presley. However, the singer's father Joseph Jackson later denied the reports.

    Since 2009, the rides Balloon Samba, Jeeps, Wave Swinger and Dinos have been featured attractions at the California State Fair in Sacramento.

    In October 2010, reports claimed that Michael Jackson's children intended to buy the property.

    However, the neglected ranch fell into disrepair. The amusement rides and animals were gone by 2013, and replaced with a meditative zen garden and a section decorated with Peter Pan.

    In May 2015, Neverland Ranch was renamed Sycamore Valley Ranch, and was put up for sale with an initial price tag of $100 million.

    By then, Colony NorthStar had completed extensive renovations to the property, with many people, including fans, protested against the decision.

    The ranch was sold by Sotheby's International Realty with an asking price of $100 million. The price included the 12,598 square foot six bedroom mansion, the four-acre lake with waterfall, a pool house, three guest houses, a tennis court, and a 5,500-square-foot movie theatre and stage.

    Due to lack of interest, the asking price dipped to $67 million, and was still on the market in early 2018.

    In February 2019, the asking price of the ranch was reduced to $31 million. The ranch is still being maintained to this day, and is owned by Colony Capital alongside the Jackson estate.