Frank Swertlow
January 08, 2004 10:00 AM

Goodbye, Neverland. Hello, Beverly Hills.

Making good on what he told “60 Minutes” — that the search of his Neverland Ranch by Santa Barbara County authorities had tainted his residence — Michael Jackson has taken his three children and left the property for a rented hillside home in Beverly Hills.

As PEOPLE has learned, the new residence is a massive, $20 million estate that overlooks a children’s park in Coldwater Canyon, according to insiders.

“It’s one of the crown jewels of Beverly Hills,” a real estate source said.

The 37,000-sq.-ft. mansion sits on 2.25 acres in one of the most exclusive areas of north Beverly Hills. It has nine bedroom suites and 10 baths and was reputedly rented for Jackson by Leonard Muhammad, Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan’s chief of staff, who, according to a recent New York Times profile, has had a key role as Jackson’s gatekeeper since the singer has been charged with seven counts of molesting a 13-year-old child. (Spokespeople for Jackson have denied the star’s link to the controversial Nation of Islam.)

Jackson took over the mansion, which includes indoor and outdoor swimming pools, a theater and tennis court, in early December. The estate is owned by a group of Asian businessmen who could not be reached for comment. A broker who tried to sell the house said the owner took the estate off the market in October. The broker would not comment about the rental.

Brian Oxman, an attorney for the Jackson family, said the entertainer was depressed that his Neverland compound in the Santa Ynez Valley was violated when 70 Santa Barbara County sheriff’s deputies raided his home in November. Jackson has said he no longer considers Neverland his home.

“He can now be closer to his family,” Oxman says. “This whole thing has brought the family together. Jackson’s parents have a home in the San Fernando Valley, just minutes from his rented house.”

Beverly Hills police tell PEOPLE they were unaware of Jackson’s arrival in their community. Tom Sneddon, the district attorney of Santa Barbara, was unavailable for comment.

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