Michael Jackson may have to say goodbye to his Neverland Ranch.
The one-time primary residence of the King of Pop is set be sold at public auction on March 19 unless Jackson pays off $24,525,906.61 he owes for the property, according to court records.
Not only will Jackson's house go on the block, all personal property inside the Neverland Ranch will be auctioned off too, which means M.J. fans could get a coveted piece of the pop star's personal life.
The singer took up residence at 5225 Figueroa Mountain Rd. outside Santa Barbara in 1988, along with Bubbles the monkey and an assortment of llamas. He built a private amusement park and named the property Neverland Ranch after the fictional home of the eternally boyish Peter Pan.
Jackson hasn't lived at the ranch since police raided the home in 2005 to look for child pornography or evidence of child molestation to be used in a trial against the pop star that year. "I won't live there again. It's a house now. It's not a home anymore," he said at the time. In 2006, he took out a $23 million loan amid mounting debts.
In March 2006, after finally paying ranch employees hundreds of thousands of dollars in back wages, Jackson closed up the main house and laid off workers on the estate. A small number of animal caretakers were retained. Jackson reportedly now maintains homes in Bahrain and Washington.
With the news that Neverland Ranch may wind up in foreclosure, there's been no lack of speculation about what the future holds for the prestigious, yet tainted, parcel of land in California's posh Santa Barbara County.
With home values depreciating under the strain of the downturn, many wonder whether Neverland Ranch will be able to retain its value. Could this epic property sell for pennies on the dollar in a foreclosure auction?
"No, quite the opposite, there's too much value with a property like this," Harry Kolb of Sotheby's International Realty in Santa Barbara told ABC News when word of a possible foreclosure first emerged late last year. "The lesser-price houses in foreclosure don't have the value, the property size, the location and the uniqueness of the architecture of Neverland Ranch. This property is going to have significant value."
Kolb says that the property will appeal to somebody with very deep pockets and that while the association with Jackson may diminish the value of the property a little, ultimately, it is a superb parcel of land.
The bucolic hills of the Santa Ynez Valley have long attracted the rich and famous, President Reagan, Bo Derek and Matt Leblanc among them. The area was the setting for the hit film "Sideways."
William Etling, a California-based real estate agent and author of "Sideways in Neverland: Life in the Santa Ynez Valley," says that Neverland has long been one of the most beautiful ranches of Santa Barbara County, where, he says, home values remain strong. Etling estimates that a two-bedroom home on an acre of land near Neverland could easily sell for a million dollars.
"Anyone would be proud to own Neverland Ranch. It's a gorgeous piece of property," said Etling.
"There have been several offers to buy it from him in years past, but my understanding is that Jackson was choosing not to sell at that time," said Kolb. No details about those offers were available.