Will Michael Jackson’s Neverland ever sell? Asian buyer with US$100 million to spend now sought on Hong Kong’s Luxify after US market sale flops

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 26 November, 2015, 1:56pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 26 November, 2015, 8:47pm

Hong Kong luxury online marketplace Luxify has added a new big ticket item as it attempts to sell Michael Jackson’s Neverland Ranch to Chinese buyers for a cool US$100 million.

Located in Santa Barbara County in California, the property is now managed by the late singer’s estate and has been renamed Sycamore Valley Ranch. It was formerly taken over by Tom Barrack’s private-equity firm Colony Capital in 2008. The firm still maintains a small stake.

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Jackson officially lived there from 1988 until shortly before his death in June 2009, but reports show he spent less and less time there after a police raid in 2003 linked to child molestation charges.

Start-up Luxify, dubbed an eBay for the super rich, is now marketing the King of Pop’s 12,598-square-foot (1,170-square-metre) former residence and its 1,091-hectare estate for HK$775 million (US$99.99 million) to Chinese, Hong Kong and Asian buyers.

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“Chinese wealthy individuals are looking to invest abroad for financial and immigration reasons and the Michael Jackson aspect has quite a big resonance in China,” said Alexis Zirah, co-founder of Luxify.

Luxify has partnered with Los Angeles brokerage Hilton and Hyland to market the iconic home after it failed to attract buyers in the United States.

Luxify’s listing comes after the six-bedroom main property that includes three guest houses failed to secure a buyer through Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba’s Taobao marketplace in October.

The Taobao auction was open for one day but failed to land even a single bid at the 500 million yuan (US$78.2 million) opening price, with just one person registering for the sale.

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Zirah said the company will use its offline network to market the property in China, adding that the price tag for such a large property should appeal to Chinese buyers.

Jackson bought the ranch, located in Los Olivos, in 1987 for a reported US$19.5 million but in 2008 defaulted on a US$24.5 million loan.

The French Normandy-style property failed to attract US buyers during its eight-month run on the market, despite celebrities from Lady Gaga to Beyonce and Jay-Z reportedly showing interest.

A video scored to Jackson’s Man in the Mirror highlights the full estate including its pool, tennis courts and 1.6-hectare lake complete with waterfall and stone bridge.

Inside the main house, potential buyers can inspect Jackson’s private dance studio, where he would go through his famous moon walk routine. It also includes a home cinema.

It is unclear if the llama shown in the marketing video was added for decoration as it roams the estate grounds, or if it included in the sale price.

Zirah said the ranch was the most expensive item listed on its platform, which has been connecting sellers of luxury products with a predominantly Asian audience since its launch last year.

Handbags, watches and wines are its most popular sale items.

Last year, a Mclaren MP4 supercar was sold through Luxify for HK$4.8 million.