Michael Jackson: Son Prince reveals his name 'is also Michael'
Neverland has been on the market for years, with an original asking price of $100million back in 2016. The huge property includes the main mansion plus 1,600 acres of gardens and a self-contained cinema and dance studio. But it is so closely associated with the legendary star and then with his fall from grace, it has proved difficult to sell, with the price slashed to $67million in 2017.
This week, billionaire developer Ron Burkle paid ‘just’ $22million for the property.
Burkle had been looking at land in the are for a country retreat branch of Soho House, but apparently decided the location is too remote from Los Angeles.
Instead, he intends to ‘land bank’ Neverland, which means to acquire a troubled property and restore and return it to productive use.
If the circumstances were different, of course, Neverland could be turned into a major fan and tourist attraction like Elvis Presley’s Graceland.
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Neverland was Jackson’s playground and refuge.
Despite how years and years of allegations and accusations have tarnished his reputation, the star undeniably had an obsession with childhood.
Neverland is a child’s dream, full of funfair rides and statues of the eternal boy, Peter Pan. Even the gates are embossed with the words ‘Once Upon A Time.’
But one day, years before his death, the magic died for Michael Jackson and he never took joy in his beloved home ever again.
Bill Whitfield and Javon Beard served as Jackson’s security team from December 2006 right up to his untimely death in June 2009. They spoke to Express Online about their time with the troubled star.
Jackson spent his last years travelling the world and living out of hotels due to the increasing and relentless police investigations into his friendships with children and their stays at Neverland.
Whitfield and Beard said: “After Santa Barbara sheriffs ransacked Jackson’s Neverland mansion in 2003, he declared that he could never live there again; it was no longer a home where he felt safe.
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Whitfield and Beard added: “Five years later, in 2008, the estate was exactly as the sheriffs had left it: drawers ransacked, furniture overturned, everything gathering dust.
“Jackson and his children spent the remaining years of his life living in hotels and rented homes.”
From then on, Jackson’s paranoia grew and he never truly felt safe or was able to relax everywhere he went.
His bodyguards reported: “Michael Jackson lived in fear of being secretly recorded. Before Mr Jackson entered any hotel room or conference room, he would have us sweep the room for cameras or listening devices. If he even suspected that a room was bugged, he’d insist on changing rooms.
In November 2003 Gavin Arvizo told police that Jackson had molested him several times at Neverland.
On November 18, police searched Neverland while Jackson was in Las Vegas with his children. The star was arrested on November 20 and on December 18 was charged with seven counts of child molestation and administering intoxicating substances to a minor.
A grand jury in April 2004 added charges of false imprisonment and child abduction and Neverland was raided again in December 2004.
The rest of Jackson’s life was overshadowed by the ongoing investigations and he never returned to live at Neverland again.
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