It’s impossible to think of the ’80s without thinking of Michael Jackson. It take a lot for a person to become in icon of an entire decade, and the King of Pop was one of the few who managed to reach such a status. The legendary singer has millions and millions of fans all over the world, who still hold him in memory, even after his tragic passing away in 2009.
And almost as famous as Michael himself, is his former home – the Neverland Ranch. It was a magical place, named after the place in Disney’s Peter Pan where one doesn’t have to ever grow up. The huge estate included an amusement park with trains, rides, and a petting zoo, – and it also revealed some pretty bizarre items he kept in his possession.
So what happened to the Neverland Ranch since it’s no longer the home of the pop legend? Renamed the Sycamore Valley Ranch, the property is practically unrecognizable now. Keep reading to find out what became of the things that made this ranch so special, what was found inside, and most importantly – how much will it take for one to purchase the property.
The Sycamore Valley Ranch
The Neverland Ranch used to be a place where you could stay forever young, but since the tragic death of pop legend Michael Jackson, it had remained abandoned and empty. Now back to its former name, the Sycamore Valley Ranch, the property remains but a shadow of what it used to be.
Once a lively ranch with staff members and many visitors to populate the huge property, the place is almsot unrecognizable nowadays, as it was never restored to its former glory. Besides being a magnificent playground for the singer, it was also a luxurious home that many people would do anything to live in – and it is now made possible.
An extremely lavish home
The grand estate is located in Los Olivos of Santa Barbara, California, and spreads over approximately 2,700 acres. It has 22 separate structures, several pools, train stations, a five-foot waterfall, and spectacular gardens fit for actual royal palaces.
Designed by renowned architect Robert Altevers, the lavish main house including six bedrooms and floors that were imported from a chateaux in France. But the Neverland Ranch was never just any old regular place to live. The ranch Michael Jackson once called home had many unique features, ones that you couldn’t find on any other property. But what happened to these features that made this ranch as special as it once was?
An inseparable part of the Neverland Ranch was, of course, the rides on the property. It was a Disney-inspired amusement park, including rides like bumper cars, a ferris wheel, a carousel, a pirate ship, and a roller coaster. It even had a floral clock at the entrance, similar to the iconic Disney clock.
At the time, visitors could come in and enjoy the rides, but they had since been removed from the property – some of which ended up at the California State Fair and the Santa Barbara County Fair.
The petting zoo
Other than the rides, Michael Jackson’s estate also included a petting zoo for children, filled with exotic animals like monkeys, tigers, and birds. Michael wanted visitors to be able to enjoy the animals, but later on these animals were sold or given away (at his approval of the places they went).
His beloved chimp, Bubbles, who had travelled the world with the pop star, has been put in an animal sanctuary in Florida to live out the rest of his days.
The Neverland Ranch is huge – the main house alone is 12,598 square foot. The property includes several swimming pools, a tennis court, and a separate building with a dance studio and movie theater, among the rest. With a size of approximately 2,700 acres, it can be hard to travel from one place to another.
That’s why Michael had two different train tracks put in, so visitors could easily get by, without having to walk too much. While, these railroads still exist, future residents would have to provide their own trains.
People who are familiar with the estate have also talked about the cheerful atmosphere it had. In fact, there were speakers everywhere, all around the premises, which constantly played music. Whether it was some of Michael Jackson’s songs, or Disney music, something was always playing around the estate.
It was regarded as a true wonderland by the legendary singer, so he was determined to keep the vibes happy for the residents as well as the visitors. Sadly, these speakers now remain silent.
In 2003, Michael Jackson was investigated for several charges of misconduct. And although he was cleared of any such allegations, it was not before the police had performed an extensive search inside his home of the Neverland Ranch.
After this search, Michael refused to go back to the estate, feeling that 70 officers had violated it with their search. He never returned, and eventually in 2006, facilities were shut down and most of the staff let go. It was no longer Michael Jackson’s home.
When the police raided the ranch in search of evidence, they found quite a few things that might be considered bizarre. The pop artist kept strange items like children mannequins, and a door knocker that’s shaped like two young people. But that wasn’t all.
Apparently, his image was everywhere. From figures in his own image (shown in the picture below), to paintings of himself, and even a robotic head shaped to look like the singer. But those weren’t the only interesting items found in the star’s home.
Jackson had game rooms that anyone, kid or adult, would dream of having. He had life-sized action figures of popular superheroes, video games, arcade machines – including Zoltar, the fortune teller machine – and many collector’s items.
Some of these included the actual scissor gloves from the set of Edward Scissorhands, and an original Batman suit. And to top it all off, he kept a huge, lavish throne – one that is fit for the King of Pop.
Hyperbaric oxygen chamber
Michael Jackson’s home also had this peculiar item, which isn’t found in many homes (not regular ones, at least). He had a hyperbaric oxygen chamber, which the singer hoped would make him live a longer life.
Although he denied the rumors saying he used to sleep in the oxygen chamber, he probably spent some time in it. Eventually, he decided to donate this chamber to a hospital, hoping it would help burn victims in treating their wounds.
Michael’s most common nickname is the King of Pop. He’s earned this title with songs like Billie Jean, Beat It, Thriller, Man in the Mirror, and dozens of others. He was perhaps the greatest pop sensations of all times.
So we don’t think there’s anything wrong with the throne that was found in the pop singer’s house. True to a king, he deserved a throne to sit on and cozy up while thinking of lyrics for his next song.
What we do find strange, however, is this item, also discovered during the search in the house. Michael kept a robotic head of himself, as well as a gold statue of his upper body and face. This robot face actually moves, and it’s a little creepy if you ask us.
But like we’ve said, Michael Jackson wasn’t a conventional man and did not have conventional items like the rest of us. Perhaps that’s what sets us apart.
Castle of Pierrefonds
Castle of Pierrefonds is a castle in France, built in the 12th century. Michael Jackson was fascinated with the architecture, and kept a replica of the magnificent castle (which was used in filming the BBC series Merlin), in one of the rooms of the house.
Behind it, as seen in the picture below, was a painting of himself, with many children walking behind him as he leads them through the country. This is probably one of the more curious items police officers had found.
The Neverland Ranch was filled with many serene places where one could go and sit in solitude, thinking about the meaning of life. The grounds, which spread over an enormous property, were not lacking in such areas – gardens, lakes and bridges, and plenty of places to experience nature.
It was a beautiful place, one that had many people working to keep beautiful and peaceful. This is also why many people were attracted to the wonderful place.
Events were held there
While the singer was very adamant on keeping his privacy, he has opened his home on several occasions to hold special events. One of these events was the wedding of legendary actress, Elizabeth Taylor, and Larry Fortensky back in 1991.
The beautiful wedding was Taylor’s seventh and last wedding, before she passed away in 2011. Sadly, after Michael Jackson passed in 2009, the Neverland Ranch had one final event – his funeral was held at his former home.
Now it’s abandoned
Once a place where grand events took place, and children could run around and play in, the Neverland Ranch has remained empty since the singer left. It’s always sad to see an abandoned home where people used to live in, but it’s even more devastating when you think about the person who resided in this beautiful home.
People had been curious to see the inside of the Neverland Ranch for years, and eventually, they got this opportunity.
A tour inside
After the music legend passed away in 2009, his brother Jermaine Jackson took Matt Lauer, of The Today Show, on a tour inside the Neverland Ranch’s main living quarters.
Viewers everywhere were given a peek inside the home, where they could see the living room where the beloved artist played the piano, the dining table where he sat down to eat, his bedroom – everything. This was a rare look inside the life of Michael Jackson, an enigma to many people.
The singer had an expensive taste, that’s a well-known fact. The tour of his home revealed he didn’t spare any expenses on even the most trivial details. He had one bathroom with a bath made entirely out of gold.
The jacuzzi in this picture was found in another bathroom, and has a magnificent (and no doubt expensive) golden faucet and golden detailing of this bath. You can clearly see just how much this singer put into his home.
Everyone dreams of having their own wine cellar in their home. It’s a real sign that you’re rich when you have your own wine cellar, filled with all kinds of expensive bottles of wine. But this wine cellar is one of the most breathtaking ones we’ve ever seen.
There seem to be hundreds of bottles down there, as well as a beautiful dining room fit for a romantic, candle lit dinner with your significant other.
Another feature that many people would love to have in their back yards, is this outside barbecue kitchen, complete with a grill and two sinks. This is perfect for having people over and throwing awesome parties in your yard.
The pop singer really knew how to live it up, and many people would probably give anything to have been a guest in his home (or in his back yard). It seems that Michael Jackson spared no expenses, and that includes… well, everything.
Michael was known to be a big spender. And he didn’t just spend a huge amount of money on his home, in order to make it a dream land for every kid out there. He spend much money on traveling, and would go on shopping sprees spending millions at once.
He could reportedly go into a store and order every item in it, without the blink of an eye. When you have so much, it’s easy to lose track.
The music artist loved cars as well. He had a collection of lavish cars, including at least four different limousines (one of which was a 1999 Rolls Royce Silver Seraph), and the 1956 Cadillac Fleetwood from the movie Driving Miss Daisy.
He even had a bunch of mini-cars, which may seem like toys but are worth a fortune. With so much spending, he was bound to eventually get into some financial trouble, and so he did.
Once the singer realized he was in financial difficulties, he began doing the exact opposite of shopping. He auctioned off many of his belongings, including decorations from the estate, his toys and arcade games, and even furniture.
After the police visited his home and he refused to come back, he had all the more reason to get rid of everything. He wanted all of it gone, because his privacy had been violated, as he saw it.
A Macaulay Culkin painting
The singer also had quite a few things belonging to actor Macaulay Culkin, from the time he was a child. Michael and Macaulay had a special connection and even considered themselves “best friends”. He had an autographed picture of the Home Alone star, as well as a painting made by him.
Macaulay, however, denied anything inappropriate ever took place. Although he didn’t deny sleeping over at Michael’s house, he said people should keep in mind Michael has a huge, two-story bedroom.
The Neverland Ranch was famous for one more thing; there were statues of children playing everywhere. Playing around, going on the slide, and even dancing – those were only small part of it. Michael surrounded himself with images of a happy childhood, inside and outside of his home.
It seemed as though the musical artist was preoccupied with the idea of childhood, and even more so with playing games and having fun. There had to be an underlying reason for all of this.
The Oprah interview
In 1993, after refusing to give interviews for 14 years, Michael Jackson finally invited television personality Oprah Winfrey to interview him in the Neverland Ranch. This would go on to be the most watched interview of all times, and with good reason.
People were curious to hear what the pop legend had to say, to get a glimpse at his glamorous life. But some of the things he revealed to Oprah in the interview weren’t quite as glamorous.
Missed his own childhood
During the interview, Jackson admitted to feeling as if he’s missed his own childhood. He would watch other kids play around and have fun in the park, and knew he couldn’t do that because he constantly had to work.
Michael had been performing every since he was a young kid in the Jackson Brothers, along with his talented siblings. They were all forced to work so hard, he didn’t get the chance to act like a real child. This could possibly explain why he tried to relive his childhood again.
The strangest of all
This is the search that revealed all the strange items in this eccentric singer’s home. From children’s toys, to life-sized dolls, and many other peculiarities, his home was filled with unexplainable things. But there was one thing that had made people – especially those police officers – raise their eyebrows most of all when it was discovered.
It was something that could easily be interpreted either way, so people didn’t know what to make of this very strange discovery. But what was it?
A secret room
The search inside the Neverland Ranch also revealed a detail straight out of the movies. Michael Jackson had a secret hidden room, that unlocks with a code. The two-story bedroom has a large walk-in closet, and by entering a code inside the closet, a hidden door behind his clothes would unlock to reveal a small room.
One can only guess what this room was used for, but it’s not uncommon for celebrities of such scale to keep a few secrets in their home.
Michael Jackson had purchased the property from its developer, William Bone, in 1988. While some sources say he paid $19.5 million at the time, other sources say it had actually been $30 million. But in 2008, the singer found himself in financial trouble.
He was in debt and was behind on three months’ worth of payments for the home. Fortress Investment, a private investment firm, was brought in to save Jackson’s ownership of the estate by purchasing part of it, but that wasn’t enough.
A tour that never happened
Later that year, Colony NorthStar saved the house from being foreclosed and purchased the loan for $22.5 million. The pop star was in a dire financial state by then, and reportedly owed $270 million in loans.
The purchase of the ranch by Colony NorthStar was going to allow the singer to go on his comeback tour, but 18 days before he could go on the tour, he tragically passed away. The singer suffered cardiac arrest due to administered medications, for which his physician Conrad Murray was subsequently charged with manslaughter.
Following the star’s death, his daughter Paris and son Prince Michael had announced they intend on buying back the estate, which was their childhood home. They had wanted to turn it into an amusement park, for sick children and children in need to be able to come and experience.
Famous pop singer Lady Gaga even offered to help with the purchase, stating she was willing to invest money in the property. But unfortunately, this never happened.
Up for sale
It was in May 2015 that Colony NorthStar had announced the Sycamore Valley Ranch, formerly the Neverland Ranch, would be put up for sale. The estate, co-owned by the firm and the Jackson estate, was going to be offered for the prodigious amount of $100 million.
And indeed, a year later in May 2016, the ranch was put up on the market. But for $100 million, finding a buyer for the property wasn’t going to be easy.
The renovation controversy
As the ranch was reportedly in state of disrepair after the pop star had left, Colony NorthStar took to renovating the 22-structure property. They made many modifications to what was now called the Sycamore Valley Ranch, but fans weren’t on board with this decision. In their claim, it took away from Michael Jackson’s legacy.
This decision was also disapproved by the pop star’s brother, Jermaine Jackson, who apparently wrote an open letter to the firm. But according to Colony NorthStar, these modifications needed to be made to sell the home.
Who would buy the house
There’s no doubt that whoever ends up buying this estate would need to have a substantial amount of money to do so. But many people believe this person would also need to be die-hard fans of the iconic singer.
This isn’t just another property. It’s the home of Michael Jackson, one that he has put his heart and soul into, and made into a kingdom. However, Colony NorthStar had specifically said they were looking for a buyer that wasn’t planning on turning the place into a Michael Jackson museum.
Still on the market
Perhaps this is one of the reasons that Colony NorthStar have been having trouble finding a buyer at all. With Michael Jackson fans not pleased about their decisions, they would have a much harder time getting this place off the market.
And with a price tag of a whopping $100 million, the ranch just wasn’t selling. These kind of properties usually sit on the market for a longer period of time than usual, because of their price. But it seemed that it just wasn’t going to sell for $100 million.
Major price cut
After almost a year on the market with the incredulous price tag of $100 million, Colony NorthStar realized they needed to do something if they were going to sell the ranch.
The lack of interest in the property eventually led to a price cut in February 2017, and the property was being offered for $67 million – and has now dropped to a whopping $31 million. The house has been on the market ever since, so you can actually still buy the property, if you can afford this extremely high price tag.
The fans remember
Until a buyer is finally found for it, Michael Jackson’s former home has become a place of pilgrimage for his fans, similarly to how Graceland is to Elvis Presley fans. These fans aren’t only interested in seeing the property, left behind by Jackson.
They also leave flowers, notes, and pictures at the entrance, in memory of the beloved artist. For these dedicated fans, he will always be remembered, and the Sycamore Valley Ranch will forever be Michael’s Neverland Ranch.
Young at heart
Michael Jackson didn’t call this ranch Neverland for nothing. Neverland is the land where Disney’s Peter Pan and his friends, the lost boys, go in order to never grow up.
And even just by looking at his former home and the things found, you can see Michael was simply young at heart – one who never wished to grow up, and sought the company of people who felt the same. And the Neverland Ranch was the perfect haven for anyone.