It just doesn’t get much weirder.
Michael Jackson, a man who moonwalked his way to fame and then fell in an equally dazzling fashion, has seen his beloved retreat, Neverland Ranch, decay to a sad and depressing shell of its former self. Reflecting the state of the pop icon’s career, the scene of happier times may be up for auction any day, despite protests from Jackson family members.
According to gossip Web site, TMZ.com, Jermaine Jackson claims brother Michael’s Neverland ranch will be sold “over my dead body,” even though the younger Jackson would need to come up with $24.5 million to save the 2,800 estate in Santa Barbara, California.
While the glitzy enclave once served as a happy retreat for many children (and some adults with overly developed Peter Pan complexes), the scene took on a sinister tone after Jackson’s 2005 child molestation trial. The property has been left relatively unattended ever since, as Jackson became more reclusive and found it increasing difficult to maintain the property and pay its operations staff.
According to Eric Munn of the Daily Mail, “The annual upkeep for the property was estimated to be a staggering $4 million, and during its heyday, 54 full-time paid staff manned the estate.”
All of the professional staff members have long since gone, and the park was ordered closed by authorities after insurance payments were not made. Now the site is far too much to handle for the six loyal friends and family members left with the task. Jackson himself spends most of his time as far away from Neverland as possible.
Jackson has agreed to refinance the property through a deal with Fortress Investment Group LLC. As for the physical upkeep of the facility and its future, those issues are still unresolved. Oh how the mighty have fallen.