LOS OLIVOS, California – Michael Jackson has given up title to his Neverland ranch, transferring the deed to a company he partly controls.
The singer filed a grant deed on the ranch Monday that makes the new owner an entity called the Sycamore Valley Ranch Co. LLC, Tom Pearson of the Santa Barbara County clerk-recorder’s office said Wednesday.
Sycamore Valley Ranch Co. is a joint venture between Jackson and an affiliate of Colony Capital LLC, according to person with knowledge of the transaction who was not authorized to speak on the record and requested anonymity.
The person could not say what would become of the 2,500-acre (1,012-hectare) property located in the bucolic, oak-studded hills of Santa Barbara County’s wine country, 120 miles (193 kilometers) northwest of Los Angeles.
A call to an attorney for Jackson, L. Londell McMillan, was not immediately returned Wednesday.
Jackson had gone into default on the $24.5 million he owes on the property and had faced foreclosure before Colony Capital bailed him out earlier this year by purchasing his loan.
Pearson said the deed did not indicate who owns Sycamore.
A listing on the California secretary of state’s Web site says the company filed with the state in June. It does not identify its owners, but the company has the same Century City address as Colony Capital LLC.
Colony Capital is a Los Angeles-based real estate investment company run by billionaire Tom Barrack. It owns several properties in Las Vegas, including the Las Vegas Hilton.
The property was called Sycamore Valley Ranch before Jackson bought it in 1988 and began turning it into a miniature amusement park with a zoo, Ferris wheel, roller coaster and other rides.
At the height of his popularity, the superstar invited thousands of children to play on the grounds.
He renamed the ranch after the mythical land of Peter Pan and set about creating the magical childhood experiences he said his career as a child star had denied him.
“It’s like stepping into Oz,” he once said of Neverland. “Once you come in the gates, the outside world does not exist.”
Jackson has struggled to pay his debts since his financial empire began to crumble following his arrest in 2003 on charges that he molested a 13-year-old boy at the ranch. He has not been seen in the Los Olivos area since a jury acquitted him of all charges, and recent aerial photos show the ranch beginning to fall into disrepair.