Michael Jackson's Neverland Ranch to be sold at auction

Other News Materials 27 February 2008 09:05 (UTC +04:00)

( dpa ) - Former popstar Michael Jackson could lose his California Neverland Ranch next month if he does not settle a 25-million dollar debt by the middle of March, local media reported Tuesday.

Neverland Ranch will be put up for sale at a public auction on March 19 unless the 24.5-million dollar debt on the property is settled, reported the Santa Maria Times.

Jackson, 49, had bought the lavish 2,800-acre estate in the hills of Santa Maria in 1987 for 30 million dollars, naming it after the island where children never grow up in Peter Pan stories.

The self-proclaimed "King of Pop" built a private zoo and amusement park on the grounds, though he has spent little time there since his June 2005 acquittal on sexual molestation charges of a young boy at the ranch.

In 2006 the state ordered the property closed and fined Jackson for failing to pay his staff or maintain proper insurance. The zoo animals have since reportedly been removed.

More than 30 workers filed a complaint at that time trying to retrieve 300,000 dollars in pay, which Jackson eventually paid under court orders.

In the 1980s Jackson's Thriller album was one of the top-selling pop albums of all time, however, his musical career has since been overshadowed by his eccentric personal life.