The onetime "Neverland" ranch of the late pop star Michael Jackson is returning to the market for $31 million, a dramatic discount from its original asking price of $100 million in 2015.
It is the latest development in the yearslong effort to sell the property. In 2017, after nearly two years on the market at the $100 million price tag, the property switched listing agents to Beverly Hills, Calif.-based Joyce Rey of Coldwell Banker, and the price was slashed to $67 million. A few months later it was taken off the market. It is now being relisted at the $31 million price with Suzanne Perkins of Compass, who was one of the original listing agents from the property’s first go on the market in 2015.
Ms. Perkins said the property failed to sell in part because "a price tag of $100 million is not chump change." Plus the property didn’t show well because of the drought affecting California at the time, said Kyle Forsyth, a colleague of Ms. Perkins who shares the listing. The property was also held off the market because of the mudslides and wildfires that afflicted the Santa Barbara, Calif. area. "Everyone pulled back for about a year in general," Mr. Forsyth said, but now "it’s the right time."
Well, sort of: In a few days, HBO is slated to air a documentary entitled "Leaving Neverland" that details the accounts of two men who say they were molested by the pop star as children. Mr. Jackson’s estate filed a breach of contract lawsuit against HBO, alleging that airing the documentary would violate a nondisparagement clause from a 1992 contract with Mr. Jackson, according to Howard Weitzman, an attorney for the Jackson estate.
Mr. Weitzman said the timing of the listing has no relationship to the documentary and lawsuit and is entirely coincidental. Mr. Forsyth added that the owners want to sell because "it’s time for new stewardship."
Located about 40 miles from Santa Barbara, the ranch is owned by a joint venture between Mr. Jackson’s estate and a fund managed by Colony Capital, a real-estate investment trust. Mr. Jackson had defaulted on a loan backed by the ranch, and Colony bought the note in 2008 and put the property’s title into a joint venture it formed with the pop star.
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Mr. Jackson paid $19.5 million for the Los Olivos property in 1987 and lived there more than 15 years, during which time he added whimsical features such a floral clock that spells out "Neverland" and a train station. Those structures remain in place on the roughly 2,700-acre property, along with the roughly 12,000-square-foot main house where Mr. Jackson lived.
The amusement park rides once installed no longer exist, Mr. Forsyth said, although the fire department building does, along with a 1950s firetruck, a swimming pool, basketball court and multiple guesthouses.
Colony spent millions on upgrades to the infrastructure, systems and landscaping with an eye to selling the property, but didn’t make major changes, according to Mr. Forsyth, who previously worked at Colony as the asset manager for the ranch. He emphasized that the property is now known as "Sycamore Valley Ranch."