Michael Jackson's Neverland remains in limbo

Before you go, we thought you'd like these...
Michael Jackson's Neverland remains in limbo
LOS OLIVOS, UNITED STATES: Pop superstar Michael Jackson (in red jacket), holding hands with his wife Lisa Marie Presley, walks with children at his Neverland Ranch in Los Olivos, California as he welcomes them for a three day World Children's Congress. This is one of the rare occasions that Jackson has allowed the media into his exclusive ranch, 150 miles north of Los Angeles. AFP PHOTO (Photo credit should read KIM KULISH/AFP/Getty Images)
FILE - - This July 2, 2009 file photo shows an ice cream cart given to Michael Jackson by actress Elizabeth Taylor that sits next to the pool behind the main house at the Neverland Ranch in Los Olivos, Calif. In 2014, Jackson's playtime palace sits empty now. The backyard circus and laughter of children are long gone, but the house and its fanciful memories live on. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, file)
A long banquet table stretches out under a tree in the grounds behind the main house at Neverland Ranch in Los Olivos, Calif., Thursday, July 2, 2009. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
FILE - In this July 1, 2009 file photo, the train station at Neverland Ranch is shown in Los Olivos, Calif. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson, file)
A worker sweeps the drive outside the Neverland Ranch gate in Los Olivos, Calif., early Wednesday, July 1, 2009. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
Michael Jackson fans decorate with hearts messages in support of Jackson outside Neverland Ranch, Tuesday, June 7, 2005, in Los Olivos, Calif. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)
** FILE ** Guests of pop star Michael Jackson ride on one of the amusement park attractions at his Neverland Ranch,in this, Dec. 17, 2004, file photo in Santa Ynez, Calif. Jackson, in danger of losing his famed Neverland ranch to public auction this month due to millions in outstanding loans, has refinanced the property and still retains ownership of it, his lawyer said Thursday, March 13, 2008.(AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill, File)
** FILE ** The entrance to pop star Michael Jackson's Neverland Ranch home is seen in this Dec. 2004 file photo, in Santa Ynez, Calif. A court filing says Jackson's Neverland Ranch will be put up for sale at a public auction on March 19, 2008 unless the pop star pays the more than $24 million he still owes on the property. Financial Title Co. filed the notice of trustee's sale with Santa Barbara County Superior Court on Tuesday Feb. 26, 2008 (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill, File)
A carousel, right, and ferris wheel, left, sits at pop star Michael Jackson's Neverland Ranch home, Friday, Dec. 17, 2004, in Santa Ynez, Calif. Several hundred children were invited to the estate for a holiday celebration. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
FILE - This Dec. 17, 2004 file photo shows a carousel, right, and ferris wheel, left, on the property at pop star Michael Jackson's Neverland Ranch home, in Santa Ynez, Calif., where several hundred children were invited to the estate for a holiday celebration. In 2014, Jackson's playtime palace sits empty now. The backyard circus and laughter of children are long gone, but the house and its fanciful memories live on. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill, file)
Bronze statues of children at play are seen at pop star Michael Jackson's home is seen here at his Neverland Ranch, Friday, Dec. 17, 2004, in Santa Ynez, Calif. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
A train full of children and adults moves through pop star Michael Jackson's Neverland Ranch home, Friday, Dec. 17, 2004, in Santa Ynez, Calif. Several hundred children were invited to the estate for a holiday celebration. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Pop star Michael Jackson greets several hundred children that were invited guests at his Neverland Ranch home, Friday, Dec. 17, 2004, in Santa Ynez, Calif. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Pop star Michael Jackson greets several hundred children that were invited guests at his Neverland Ranch home, Friday, Dec. 17, 2004, in Santa Ynez, Calif. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Michael Jackson drives a bumper car ride while hosting a Martin Luther King Jr. holiday party for youngsters at his Neverland Ranch in Los Olivos, Calif., on Saturday Jan. 15, 1994 Jackson played host to more than 100 inner-city children who were treated to lunch, carnival rides, zoo animals and a showing of the movie “Beethoven’s 2nd.” (AP Photo)
Pop superstar Michael Jackson rides the merry-go-round with unidentified youngsters and adults from South-Central Los Angeles at his Neverland Ranch near Los Olivos, Calif., Jan. 15, 1994. The embattled superstar played host to some 100 inner-city youngsters during a Martin Luther King Jr. holiday excursion at his 2,600-acre ranch in Santa Barbara County. (AP Photo)
This is an aerial view of pop superstar Michael Jackson's Neverland Ranch, shown Dec. 13, 1993. (AP Photo)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 18: In this 18 April 1995 file photo Lisa Marie Presley (L) walks with her husband Michael Jackson (R) to greet children at his Neverland Ranch in California. Cable News Network (CNN) reported 18 January that Presley has filed for divorce, citing irreconcilable differences. Jackson married the daughter of music icon Elvis Presley in 1994. (Photo credit should read KIM KULISH/AFP/Getty Images)
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE
SHOW CAPTION +
HIDE CAPTION

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.

Michael Jackson's Neverland remains in limbo
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE
SHOW CAPTION +
HIDE CAPTION

Read Full Story

People are Reading