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WATCH: Neverland Ranch sold for a song

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The Wall Street Journal says the property was sold for $22-million to Ron Burkle, an associate of the late pop star.

King of Pop Michael Jackson
Michael Jackson’s Neverland Ranch in California has been bought by billionaire businessman Ron Burkle. Photo: Twitter/@michaeljackson

PRETORIA – Michael Jackson’s Neverland Ranch has been sold to billionaire businessman Ron Burkle for $22-million.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Burkle, co-founder of investment firm Yucaipa Companies, was an associate of the late pop star.

WSLS news writes that the initial selling price of the property was $100-million in 2016, then dropped to $67-million a year later.

The property in Los Olivos, California, was home to the late King of Pop from 1987 to the time of his death in June 2009.

Jackson bought the ranch for nearly $19.5-million and named it Neverland, a fictional place where Peter Pan, Tinker Bell, Captain Hook and some other mythical beings and creatures live.

He turned the ranch into an entertainment complex, building a zoo, a railway and theme park rides, and regularly used the property to entertain children.

According to the BBC, in the 1990s and 2000s, Neverland became the centre of various investigations into child sexual assault allegations against Jackson.

In 1993, Los Angeles dentist and screenwriter Evan Chandler publicly accused Jackson of sexually abusing his 13-year-old son at the ranch.

But in court, Jackson denied the allegations that he had used Neverland as a fantasy world to groom young boys, reports the BBC, and in 2005 he was acquitted.

The BBC reports that Jackson never returned to Neverland. After four years, in June 2009, he died at another home in Los Angeles after suffering a cardiac arrest induced by a drug overdose.

In 2011, Jackson’s personal physician, Conrad Murray, was accused of giving the pop singer the fatal dose and was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter.

The physician was sentenced to four years in prison but was released after two years in October 2013.

BBC reports that Neverland has been rebranded as Sycamore Valley Ranch and has undergone extensive redevelopment since Jackson’s death.

– African News Agency (ANA); Editing by Yaron Blecher