Michael Jackson’s home became as famous as he did after he invited the press and many charities to visit it. Neverland was kitted out with a theme park, zoo and various other attractions, as well as the huge mansion at its centre. But when Michael died in 2009, was he at his iconic estate?
Michael Jackson did not die at his home in Neverland, as he was rehearsing away from home at the time of his death.
In fact, Neverland was barely his home at that point, given he had moved away from it after it was searched and investigated by police.
According to his sister LaToya Jackson, this was due to the police searches which took place at the ranch, with Michael believing it was no longer his home.
As part of Michael’s trial in 2003, where he was charged on multiple counts of molesting a minor, the Neverland Ranch was extensively searched by police.
Michael was acquitted of all charges, but after this took place he left the ranch, and he was reported as saying he would never live at the property again.
This was detailed in La Toya’s memoir from 2012, Starting Over.
In 2007, foreclosure of the Neverland Ranch was published, and a spokesperson for the singer said the loan was being refinanced, and he still retained the majority stake in the ranch.
However, as time went on, it was reported Michael gave up more and more of the ranch, with it eventually going up for sale.
In a press release around a foreclosure auction of the ranch, he said: “I am pleased with recent developments involving Neverland Ranch and I am in discussions with Colony [Capital, an investment company] and Tom Barrack with regard to the Ranch and other matters that would allow me to focus on the future.”
At this point, some believed Michael was struggling with debt or money issues, hence why he was trying to sell the ranch.
According to Billboard, Michael was reportedly in around $400million (£303million) of debt at the time of his death and was about to start a huge comeback tour at London’s O2 Arena.
However, tragedy struck when Michael died on June 25, 2009, but he was not at the ranch or anywhere near at the time.
Michael was preparing to perform at the Staples Centre in Los Angeles and had attended a rehearsal the night before his death, meaning he was more than 130 miles from Neverland.
The following morning, the singer was found not breathing in his bedroom.
His doctor, Conrad Murray, said he started CPR on Jackson before shouting to a chef for security and further help, claiming he could not call the emergency services on his mobile phone due to his not knowing the address of the hotel.
Eventually, the call to the emergency services came in at 12.21pm, as was confirmed by an LA Fire Department spokesman, after which paramedics reached the singer at 12.26pm to find he was still not breathing.
Paramedics performed CPR on him for more than 40 minutes before taking him in the ambulance to the hospital.
He arrived at the hospital at 1.14pm, and doctors attempted to resuscitate him for more than an hour before his death was called at 2.26pm.
The controversy around his death came in August of that year when the official LA coroner’s report ruled his death as a homicide.
Eventually, his doctor, Conrad Murray, was tried for involuntary manslaughter, over administering drugs to the singer on the night before he died.
Conrad was charged on February 8, 2010, as Michael was believed to have died from a massive overdose of propofol, which is a general anaesthetic.
The official cause of death was acute propofol and benzodiazepine intoxication.
Testimony in the trial suggested propofol, in conjunction with other drugs in Michael’s system, had played the key role in his death.
In 2011, the jury found Conrad guilty and he was sentenced to four years in prison but was released after two years on October 28, 2013, for good behaviour.
During the trial, his licence to practise medicine and administer heavy sedatives was revoked and has remained so to this day.