Neverland may be up for sale

March 14, 2008 5:58:58 PM PDT
There could be a new owner riding the merry-go-round at Michael Jackson's fabled Neverland Ranch this summer. A public auction of the 2,500-acre spread in central California's wine country had been scheduled for next week after Jackson went into default on the $24.5 million he owes on the property. However, the auction was postponed until May 14 by "mutual agreement" of Jackson and his creditors, said Julie Wagner of Financial Title Co. of San Francisco, the firm that filed the default papers.

"That allows us to refinance or sell the property," Jackson's attorney, L. Londell McMillan, told The Associated on Friday. He added that Jackson is looking at both options.

"We expect to have this matter resolved well before May 14," McMillan said. The extended date was first reported on

Jackson, who moved out of Neverland more than two years ago, bought the property in the bucolic rolling hills of Los Olivos, 150 miles north of Los Angeles, from real estate baron William Bone in 1988 and turned it into his personal playground. He brought in more than a dozen amusement park rides, including a merry-go-round, Ferris wheel and roller coaster and installed a zoo complete with flamingos, giraffes, elephants and orangutans.

At the height of his popularity in the late 1980s and '90s, he invited children by the thousands onto the grounds, where they would spend the day playing and feasting on cotton candy and popcorn.

Once hailed as the "king of pop," Jackson saw his financial empire begin to crumble as his record sales plummeted in recent years. His image took a further hit when he was arrested in 2003, accused of molesting a 13-year-old visitor to Neverland.

He left Neverland after a jury acquitted him of the molestation charges in 2005 and is said to be living overseas.