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Off to Neverland

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When he purchased his 2,600-acre ranch in Santa Barbara county in 1988 for $17 million, Jackson famously named it Neverland—a tribute to the magical realm from Peter Pan where nobody ever grows up. It became a sanctuary where he could indulge his every fantasy—and where his eccentricities came into full bloom. He had a crib in his bedroom for his primate friend forever Bubbles the chimp and hosted Elizabeth Taylor’s eighth wedding (to Larry Fortensky in 1991). It took on a dark aura with allegations of child sexual abuse. After his 2005 acquittal Jackson largely abandoned the property, retreating for a time to the Middle East and Europe. The estate cost as much as $10 million a year to run and became a financial sinkhole for Jackson, as his album sales declined and his spending raged out of control. Last year he nearly lost Neverland to foreclosure, though now there is talk it may be turned into a museum.