As we speak, the Sundance Film Festival is preparing their 2019 line-up to feature the premiere of a documentary about MJ that is set to be called Leaving Neverland. In light of the talk surrounding the yet-to-be-released film, we are compelled to reflect on Michael Jackson's ranch that he left behind: the Neverland Ranch.
Located in the Santa Barbara County area in California, Michael Jackson bought the estate in 1987 and turned it into a children's ideal fantasy playground. The playland seemed to be catered less for children and more for The King of Pop himself, considering that MJ never truly had a childhood. He became a world-renowned pop sensation with his brothers back at an extremely young age and when he was not performing onstage, his relationship with his father Joe Jackson was troublesome. Neverland Ranch gave Jackson a chance to live the childhood he was never allowed to have.
Nearly an entire decade after the youngest Jackson 5 sibling passed away and even after the ranch had been renamed the Sycamore Valley Ranch, the estate is still overshadowed by the legacy of the Neverland Ranch. Much of that ranch's legacy is a hot topic of discussion, but that same legacy is also filled with a few uplifting and fascinating facts.
23 FACT - HE WAS GIFTED ONE OF THE ORIGINAL BATSUITS
Back when Tim Burton was filming the 1989 Batman movie starring Jack Nicholson and Michael Keaton, the director had hoped that he could get Michael Jackson to work on the film's soundtrack. Unfortunately for Burton, although Jackson really wanted to write music for the film, he could not due to prior commitments.
Still, as a token of appreciation, Jackson was gifted one of the original Batsuits that Keaton wore on the set. The suit was used as decor for his Neverland Ranch.
22 FACT - BURTON ALSO GIFTED MJ WITH EDWARD'S SCISSORHANDS
A year after Tim Burton's Batman became a huge hit, the director struck gold again when he released Edward Scissorhands. The screenwriter behind Edward Scissorhands - named Caroline Thompson - has gone on record, according to Vice, in saying that Edward Scissorhands is a character who MJ would have loved to have played.
In fact, it was reported once upon a time ago that MJ actually expressed some interest in playing the character, although the filmmakers never followed up on it. Instead, they gifted him with the vintage gloves that Johnny Depp wore to play the character after filming wrapped up. He also kept them at the ranch.
21 FACT - JACKSON HAD PLANS TO BUILD A FARM
Neverland Ranch was notorious for featuring animals all over the place in every shape, color and size imaginable. Such animals included cows, alpacas, elephants, parrots and chimpanzees; just to name a select few who stood out.
Having all of these animals in one place may seem random and for the sake of novelty, but as it turns out, MJ had dreams of building his own zoo. Instead, he settled on incorporating a private zoo at his Neverland Ranch.
20 FACT - HE BOUGHT NEVERLAND RANCH AT AGE 29
Most of us regular folks in our 20's struggle to maintain a house while trying to keep up with the rent and pay it on time. Michael Jackson was far from regular when he was in his 20's, which was why he was able to buy an entire ranch at the age of 29.
Seeing that he bought his own rent at that age was a miraculous feat in itself, as well as an impressive one. It is even more impressive when we consider how much cash he coughed up to buy the ranch. It has been estimated that Jackson paid somewhere between $17 million and $30 million to buy the ranch in the late '80s.
19 FACT - KIM K HELD 14TH BIRTHDAY PARTY AT NEVERLAND RANCH
Kim Kardashian herself did not officially become famous until the mid-2000's, but she has always run in famous circles since she was young. Back when the starlet was 14-years old, she dated TJ Jackson, Michael Jackson's little nephew and the son of Michael's older brother Tito.
While they were still together, TJ made it possible for Kim to celebrate her 14th birthday at the Neverland Ranch. While Michael himself did not attend Kim's party, it was still surely a birthday that Kim could never forget.
18 FACT - MJ PRACTICED POOR HYGIENE AT THE RANCH
While staying at the Neverland Ranch, Michael Jackson was not exactly the cleanliest of suitors. At least was not according to the maids who used to clean up around the ranch. One of these maids came forward anonymously to the New York Post where they discussed some of MJ's tendencies.
The anonymous maid claimed that he would regularly play with the animals and track mud into the house. He also refused to have his sheets cleaned. The maids would have to sneak in and change them when he wasn't around.
17 FACT - FRIEND LIZ TAYLOR HELD WEDDING AT RANCH
One of Michael Jackson's closest friends on the planet was Oscar-winning actor Elizabeth Taylor. The two loved each other so much that they would regularly shower each other with gifts. He often bought her diamonds while she bought him an elephant shipped from Asia that he kept on the ranch.
Perhaps his greatest gift to Taylor opening up his second home to her as a place for a wedding. It was in 1991 that Elizabeth Taylor married her seventh husband - construction worker Larry Fortensky - on the ranch and even paid the $1.3 million it cost to craft the wedding decor.
16 FACT - HIS CHILDREN WERE RAISED AND EDUCATED ON THE RANCH
Michael Jackson opened up his second home to dozens of children around the world, but more than anyone else, he opened Neverland Ranch up to his own children. Michael had three children: Paris, Blanket, and Prince Michael Jackson II.
All of whom lived a life of seclusion at the Neverland Ranch. MJ was extremely protective of his kids and rarely allowed his kids to leave the ranch. More often than not, he sheltered his children at the ranch where they were educated by personal tutors that he hired.
15 FACT - NAMED A LOCOMOTIVE TRAIN AFTER HIS MOTHER
Among the several over the top pieces of spectacle featured at the Neverland Ranch, Michael Jackson installed two train railroads onto his property equipped with some beautiful train locomotives. One of these locomotives, MJ named it after his mother Katherine.
Katherine Esther Jackson always had a tight-knit relationship with Michael. She was the one who demanded that her husband Joe incorporate Michael into the Jackson 5. She saw his talent when Joe was skeptical. Even now, as she survives Michael at age 88, she serves as guardian to his children. Talk about mother of the year several years running.
14 FACT - PAUL MCCARTNEY ONCE RENTED THE PROPERTY
While in the prime of their careers, Michael Jackson and Paul McCartney were frequent collaborations. Their most notable collaborations came when they recorded "The Girl is Mine," which was made for MJ's Thriller album, and "Say Say Say," made for McCartney's Pipes of Peace album.
While filming a music video for the latter song, McCartney rented out and stayed at the property back when it was still called the Sycamore Valley Ranch. When he visited his friend at the ranch, MJ was so enamored with the ranch and its atmosphere that he decided to buy it shortly after.
13 FACT - HAD A CAROUSEL THAT PLAYED HIS MUSIC
Another one of Michael Jackson's more superfluous features among his fantastical Neverland Ranch was his own personal carousel. However, because he was Michael Jackson, he could not just settle on just owning some regular old carousel.
He needed to add his own zest - his own special flavor - to his carousel. He did just that by ordering a carousel that played his own music whenever the ride went on. Specifically, it played his song "Childhood," which only goes to highlight our theories about MJ using the ranch to live out an unfulfilled childhood.
12 FACT - GODFATHER OF NICOLE RICHIE, WHO OFTEN VISITED RANCH
One of Michael Jackson's most popular songs in his catalog was always a song that he wrote and performed with Lionel Richie called "We Are the World." During an interview, Richie talked about writing that song at the Neverland Ranch and feeling uncomfortable while watching MJ's animals terrorize each other.
During their experience, the two songsters felt a special bond that compelled Lionel Richie to make Michael Jackson a Godfather to his daughter, Nicole. As a child, Nicole frequently visited the ranch with her dad.
11 FACT - MARLON BRANDO'S SON GOT MARRIED AT RANCH
Another one of Michael Jackson's close and famous friends was multiple Oscar-winning legend, Marlon Brando. Brando often visited Jackson at his Neverland Ranch and once in an interview, Brando would refer to the ranch as his second home.
Brando's son, Miko, would probably say the same thing as he too has a special connection to the ranch. Not only because Miko Brando served as a security guard at Neverland Ranch, but because Miko had his wedding held on the ranch with Jackson serving as his best man.
10 FACT - MACAULAY CULKIN HELPED DESIGN the AMUSEMENT PARK
Following the success of Home Alone, Michael Jackson befriended and developed an extremely close relationship with Macaulay Culkin. So close, in fact, that before he died, he named Culkin as the Godfather to his three children.
As if that did not prove how close they were, Jackson allowed Culkin to help him co-design the amusement park that was built into Neverland Ranch. Culkin frequently visited and had fun with MJ at the ranch and it's nice to know that MJ trusted Culkin enough to hear his input on what should be included at the amusement park.
9 ODD - LIFE SIZE MANNEQUINS EVERYWHERE
Following the passing of Michael Jackson, one of the odd findings that he left behind on the Neverland Ranch was a room filled with life-sized mannequins. The mannequins themselves appeared to be modeled after children, at least judging by the clothes these mannequins happened to don.
The mannequins themselves did not look ominous, they mainly looked a little strange because most of these mannequins did not have any hair. Wigs must have not been in the mannequin budget for Michael Jackson when he bought them.
8 ODD - PAINTING OF HIM AS THE PIED PIPER
Those who are familiar with classic folklore would be familiar with the tale of The Pied Piper of Hamelin; a tale as old as time. Dating back to the middle ages, the legend tells of a ratcatcher who was hired by a mayor to deal with the town's rat infestation problem with his magic flute. The mayor refused to pay the ratcatcher for his efforts.
In retaliation for the town's betrayal, the ratcatcher would use his magic flute to rally the town's younger inhabitants. Judging from the painting where he is envisioned as that same ratcatcher, we can only assume that he might've related to the ratcatcher's despair.
7 ODD - THIS Strange SHRINE
In 2014, according to Vice, four photographers broke into what remained of the Neverland Ranch and uncovered some odd findings. One of those findings happened to be a strange shrine. A shrine featuring a demonic statue head guarding a sketch of what appears to be a man in a suit named "TOMMY" sketched to appear as The Devil.
It is not exactly clear if this truly is something that MJ crafted or if it was something created and left behind by someone who previously broke into the ranch. We can only assume this was sketched by MJ, but even if it was, we don't understand the significance of this.
6 ODD - Super realistic DOLLS
From the looks of it, Michael Jackson was an avid toy collector. Neverland Ranch was littered with life-sized action figures, mannequins and even a human-sized Power Ranger. The ranch was also filled with dolls, most of which were intimidating as all heck.
Perhaps the most uncomfortable doll found at the ranch was this one. We are not sure of the appeal that MJ found in collecting strange dolls like this, especially this one in particular.
5 ODD - STATUES OF HIS OWN FACE
One of the most downright wacky findings from the Neverland Ranch is these three statues lined up of MJ's distorted face.
We are not 100% sure what the significance of this statues are to be, but we would have to assume they were statues made for and used on the set of the short film/music video made for his song "Ghosts." Even then, that does not explain why he kept them around after so many years after the video was released. Maybe he had a nostalgic fondness for his own memorabilia, or he thought it added a special decor to his ranch.
4 ODD - This door KNOCKER
As we mentioned earlier, four photographers broke into the Neverland Ranch five years after MJ had passed away and in the process, decided to use their cameras to document their findings.
One of their oddest findings came when they approached a blue door that had been tattered, chipped away and decayed after being in use for so many years. The strangest part of the door came to light following a closer inspection, revealing a steel knocker depicting a couple kissing.
3 ODD - FORTUNE TELLER MACHINE
We mentioned earlier that we like to think that Michael Jackson's construction of Neverland Ranch was a way for The King of Pop to capture a childhood that he never had. That idea seems to be highlighted in this fortune teller machine.
The same year that Michael Jackson opened up shop at the Neverland Ranch was the year that Tom Hanks starred in Big, a movie where the main character goes from being a little kid to transforming almost instantly into a grown man after visiting a magic fortune teller machine. We're curious if MJ had this in mind when he bought this thing.
2 ODD - These youthful statues
The dolls and mannequins that we mentioned earlier were not the only life-sized childlike imagery evoked at the Neverland Ranch. Both the interior and exteriors of the Neverland Ranch were littered with life-sized statues of children all over the place.
In this one placed near the front lawn of the Neverland Ranch, two children - a barefoot boy wearing blue overalls and a girl wearing a blue dress - can be seen playing on what appears to be either a go-kart or a lawnmower.
1 ODD - THESE HANDS
This is one of the most befuddling pieces, whose meaning we are still struggling to decipher. In a scene that appears to be strangely reminiscent Terminator 2: Judgement Day, we can see a scratched up pair of hands as they struggle to come up for air after being buried deep beneath a concrete floor.
We are not sure whether MJ picked up this piece of art because he thought the imagery was profound or he just thought it looked cool, but all we know is that to us at least, this art piece looks unsettling.
References: popsugar.com, homeadverts.com, wikipedia.org