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Michael Jackson's Neverland remains in limbo

LOS OLIVOS, Calif. (AP) - From outside the gates of Neverland Ranch, it appears as if Michael Jackson's former home and fantasyland has been frozen in time.

The backyard circus is long gone, but heartfelt notes placed by saddened fans at the property's entrance remain intact five years after Jackson's death. And visitors are still making the pilgrimage.

"I figured it would just be a closed gate, but I still wanted to see it for myself," said James Chen of Seattle, a fan who stopped outside Neverland during a recent road trip with his father.

While many Jackson ventures are thriving after his death, including a new album and Cirque du Soleil shows, there's not been similar movement at Neverland, despite rumors the property could be transformed into a Graceland-like homage or sold to the highest bidder.

Caroline Luz, spokeswomen for Colony Capital LLC, the real estate firm that bailed Jackson out after he defaulted on the $24.5 million he owed on Neverland, said the Santa Ynez Valley property about 150 miles north of Los Angeles is being maintained, but she declined further comment.

The estate was built in 1981 by real estate developer William Bone, who called it Sycamore Valley Ranch. Jackson paid $19.5 million for the hilly, oak- and sycamore-studded property in 1988 and rechristened it Neverland after Peter Pan's island dwelling. He soon added such over-the-top amenities as a zoo and small amusement park.

For nearly 20 years, Neverland was both Jackson's home and a pop culture landmark.

It's where Elizabeth Taylor lavishly married Larry Fortensky in 1991; where Oprah Winfrey famously interviewed Jackson live in front of 90 million viewers in 1993; and where then-wife Lisa Marie Presley and Jackson welcomed children from around the globe ahead of the United Nations' 50th anniversary in 1995.

Jackson later turned his back on Neverland after his 2005 acquittal on charges he molested children at the ranch, opting to live elsewhere in the world until his death in 2009.

"I guess they ruined it for my dad," Jackson's eldest son, Prince, told a civil court jury last year.

With no crush of fans or media throngs in years, and the amusement park just a whirling memory, Neverland's future remains unclear.

During a recent stop outside the property, a landscaper could be seen zipping along the driveway in a red buggy as a guard manned the security shack at the front gate. The wireless router inside was named "SVR Security," a nod to the property's original name.

"It has been really quiet," said local real estate broker William Etling in his office a few miles away in the wine-tasting town of Los Olivos. "There hasn't been any noise about stuff happening out there. I'm surprised they haven't sold it to someone else already."

Etling, author of the Santa Ynez Valley tell-all "Sideways in Neverland," wondered who the buyer of the $35 million, 2,600-acre property might be when a nearby 3,250-acre ranch recently sold for $22 million.

His only guess: Someone who really likes the King of Pop.

Join the discussion

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Jennie Pennie June 20 2014 at 12:53 PM

The young man MJ allegedly molested came forward online about 3 months after Jackson's death and said he was never molested. He said his father told him to lie and say he was molested and at the time he said he didn't know why he was told to say that. In addition, McCauly Caulkin and several other stars who were children and friendly with Michael say they were never abused sexually and didn't know where that accusation came from. Michael disgruntled someone or someones in that industry and they set him up much like they have done many others who don't do as they're told.

Stop judging and believing everything you read or hear.

Flag Reply +19 rate up
8 replies
Tuhloola11 June 20 2014 at 11:52 AM

Bulldoze it, with Janet inside.

Flag Reply +18 rate up
5 replies
slavemarv June 20 2014 at 12:13 PM

the best thing to do would be to bulldoze it under

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2 replies
mclkarim slavemarv June 20 2014 at 2:16 PM

Did you feel the same way about Graceland?

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6 replies
Randy1953 slavemarv June 20 2014 at 7:26 PM

You messed up and responded with another of your names . Must get confusing to log out and then log in under another name and fav and then log out and then log in under another name with all those comments you make under different names . You are put on notice as a huge troll .

Flag Reply +2 rate up
nitae1952 June 20 2014 at 1:32 PM

I will never understand how people can't forget something after the courts have decided a person is not guilty. If he was guilty how did he have custody of his kids? All I can say is this, Michael Jackson was a kind, caring, fun loving person who loved. sharing what he loved with kids. My children met him at Neverland and enjoyed every minute with him at the zoo, on the rides and other places. They have told me notonce did he try anything with any of them. My kids would never of hidden anything like that from me. To this day they say the same thing. he never touched any of us. I believe he never touched anyone and that the parentsjust saw a way to get money. It happens, believe me.

Flag Reply +16 rate up
10 replies
Ray June 20 2014 at 11:24 AM

Make it a stop on one of those Hollywood freak tours.

Flag Reply +15 rate up
coopdabomb June 20 2014 at 11:12 AM

Save it for obama to retire in

Flag Reply +13 rate up
8 replies
powerof3 June 20 2014 at 11:41 AM

People are so cruel...Karma is real be careful

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2 replies
Tuhloola11 powerof3 June 20 2014 at 12:30 PM

Yep, and Michael has, undoubtedly, found that out, by now.

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3 replies
toni and manny powerof3 June 20 2014 at 10:12 PM

yes it is

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electros June 20 2014 at 11:59 AM

"I guess they ruined it for my dad," Jackson's eldest son, Prince, told a civil court jury last year-

Yeah, guess it was a drag for the King of Pop who lost his ability to hide all the sex he was having with kids and abuse that was happening at the ranch!

Flag Reply +12 rate up
5 replies
You the MAN!!!!! June 20 2014 at 11:36 AM

If you are a fan and want to express your opinion about Neverland Ranch, contact Colony Financial Corp.....(http://www.colonyfinancial.com) who owns the property now. I live 20 miles from Neverland Ranch and I use to help maintain the property and I would love to see it restored.

Flag Reply +10 rate up
1 reply
electros You the MAN!!!!! June 20 2014 at 12:01 PM

MESSAGE TO COLONY FINANCIAL:

Please have tractors and earth movers scrape the ranch clean of any memory of the child abuser named Michael jackson.

Flag Reply +19 rate up
6 replies
phrankly June 20 2014 at 12:06 PM

how wants to purchase a property of a pervert? not me for sure.

Flag Reply +9 rate up
9 replies
aol~~ 1209600

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