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The 2,700 acre property in California’s Santa Barbara County, which the King of Pop bought back in 1988, is owned by a private investment firm called Colony Capital, which bought it in late 2007 for a mere $23.5 million when the King of Pop was heavily in debt. It was revealed last year in court that Jackson was three to four months behind on payments for the sprawling estate accompanied by a $702 million IRS bill that his estate is currently appealing.
Since taking over the property as a personal favor to Jackson, billionaire Tom Barrack of the Colony Capital firm has invested $5 million a year for the property’s upkeep, which combined with the original $23 million investment and other miscellaneous expenses comes to an estimated $50 million investment in just seven years.
Though Jackson was not living at the Ranch at the time of his death over five years ago—he actually hadn’t lived there since 2005—his estate is unhappy about the impending sale. Especially since near the end of his life Jackson seemed interested in turning Neverland into a school for the performing arts. Others have suggested that the Ranch be turned into an attraction similar to Graceland, but being that the property is not near an interstate and the local roads are not able to accommodate the amounts of visitors expected, that plan was quickly scrapped.
“We are frustrated, bitterly disappointed and saddened that it has come to this,” a representative for Jackson’s estate wrote in an email to Forbes. “Sadly, Michael lost control of Neverland during his life as a result of advice from a former manager.”
The terms of the agreement, negotiated during Michael’s lifetime, say that Colony has the right to sell, but Jackson’s family will still own his family home in Encino, including its iconic home recording studio.
Forbes reports that since Jackson’s death in 2009 the estate has pulled in more than three quarters of a billion dollars before taxes and expenses.