Michael Jackson's Neverland Ranch Sold to Billionaire Ron Burkle

Neverland Ranch - Publicity - H 2017
Jim Bartsch

The businessman views the 2,700-acre property in Los Olivos, near Santa Barbara, as a land banking opportunity.

Michael Jackson's Neverland Ranch in California has found a new owner in billionaire businessman Ron Burkle.

Burkle views the 2,700-acre property in Los Olivos, near Santa Barbara, as a land banking opportunity, his spokesman said Thursday in an email.

The Wall Street Journal reports the property was sold for $22 million to Burkle, an associate of the late pop star and co-founder of the investment firm Yucaipa Companies. The businessman built his wealth by acquiring and selling grocery store chains, and holds investments in U.K. and U.S.-based talent agencies. Most recently, he made an investment in  the Beverly Hills-based APA agency via his Yucaipa Companies firm.

The asking price of the Neverland property was $100 million in 2016 then dropped to $67 million a year later. In addition to a 12,500 square-foot main residence and a 3,700 square-foot pool house, the property boasts a separate building with a 50-seat movie theater and a dance studio. Other features on the ranch are a "Disney-style" train station, a fire house and barn.

Burkle's spokesman said the billionaire had been eyeing Zaca Lake — which adjoins the property — for a new Soho House, a members-only club with locations in Los Angeles, Miami, New York and Toronto. Burkle ultimately decided the location was too remote and expensive for a club.

Burkle is the controlling shareholder of Soho House. After Burkle saw the property from the air, he put in an offer to purchase.

In 2019, Burkle backed Weinstein Co. executive David Glasser's film and television production company 101 Studios, which aims to make a slate of films per year.