Thursday, February 28, 2008

Michael Jackson faces forced sale of Neverland

Michael Jackson's Neverland Ranch looks set to be put up for sale at a public auction next month.

The famous property will go under the hammer if the pop star does not pay the 24 million dollars plus he still owes on the property.

Michael Jackson's Neverland Ranch could be headed for the chopping block.

A San Francisco-based title company said Tuesday that the 2,500-acre property in Los Olivos, California, might be sold at a public auction scheduled for Mar. 19 unless the financially beleaguered singer can come up with the $24 million he still owes on the estate.

Financial Title Co. filed the notice of trustee's sale in Santa Barbara Superior Court.

Jackson's people have not yet commented on this latest turn of events.

His rep issued a statement in November denying he had defaulted on a massive home loan and was in danger of losing his extravagant abode.

The erstwhile King of Pop has been living mainly in Las Vegas since returning to the United States a little more than a year ago, following extended stays in Bahrain and Europe. He hasn't lived at Neverland, which he bought in 1988 for $17 million, since 2003, when police first raided his home while building a child molestation case against him.

Jackson was acquitted of all charges in 2005 and immediately left the country.

Per court documents obtained by Fox News, the auction would really bleed the property dry. It would include not just the grounds and buildings on the property but all of the furnishings, appliances and various child-friendly accoutrements Jackson has added over the years, including "all merry-go-round-type devices."

The list is mighty thorough:

"Generators, engines, boilers, incinerators, building materials, appliances and goods of every nature whatsoever…including…those for the purposes of supplying or distributing heat, cooling, electricity, gas, water, air and light
Plumbing, bathtubs, water heaters, water closets, sinks, ranges, stoves, microwave ovens, refrigerators, dishwashers, disposals and any other kitchen equipment
All trees, shrubs and plants, sculptures, statuary and other outdoor artistic creations and displays
All railroad equipment, trains, locomotives, rail cars and other rolling stock
All Ferris wheels, carousels, merry-go-round-type devices, indoor and outdoor gymnasium and athletic equipment…"
And so on.

In March 2006, Jackson's camp made good on $300,000 in back wages owed to Neverland employees, after California's Department of Industrial Relations ordered the workers to quit until they were paid. The issue came to the department's attention after Jackson's workers' compensation insurance lapsed.

At the same time, Jackson was also taking heat from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, which implored him to allow the organization to find new homes in "legitimate sanctuaries" for the various animals living on the property.


Jackson faces Neverland auction

Pop star Michael Jackson could lose his Neverland ranch if he fails to pay nearly $25m (£12.5m) that he owes on the sprawling California property.
If Mr Jackson does not pay more than three months' arrears on the property it will go to auction on 19 March, a Santa Barbara official told the BBC.

The reclusive singer has not lived at the property since his acquittal on child molestation charges in 2005.

He bought Neverland in 1987 intending to create a fantasy-land for children.

It is named after an island in the story Peter Pan, where children never grow up.

After he purchased Neverland, Mr Jackson built a zoo and fairground on the 2,800 acre (1,100 hectare) property north-west of Santa Barbara.

It was closed in 2006 after he failed to pay his staff or maintain proper insurance.

According to court documents cited by Fox News, the auction is to include the house and everything on the estate including "all ferris wheels, carousels, merry-go-round type devices... and all amusement ride equipment and facilities of every kind or nature".

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