Michael Jackson May Lose Neverland Ranch To Debt

October 26, 2007 12:52 PM ET

He was once the King of Pop and ruled over the musical landscape. Following commercial slumps and a criminal trial, his dominion was reduced to a mansion and theme park called Neverland Ranch. Now, the final vestige of Michael Jackson's unironic reign is reportedly on the verge of being taken away, after MJ defaulted on a $23 million loan. Jackson was given ninety days starting October 22nd to repay his debt or risk losing the ranch, which had been shuttered and its employees dismissed since he was accused of using the park as a lure for young children (or since he failed to pay the employees' salaries and insurance). The ranch was used as collateral for Fortress Music Trust when they loaned the beleaguered pop star $20 million, and after failing to sell another company Jackson's debt, Fortress is eager to recoup their losses. If we were Jackson, we'd rush up the release of the Thriller reissue. The star still faces a $7 million lawsuit brought forth by Prince Abdullah of Bahrain after MJ reneged on a recording contract, but kept the upfront money. With all this talk of debt, it's easy to forget that Jackson is still rich. He owns a 50 percent stake in Sony/ATV Music Publishing, including the Beatles catalog, which has an estimated value of $600 million. If Jackson were to declare bankruptcy, however, that stake would be liquidated and auctioned to the highest bidder. But seriously, won't somebody please think of the llamas.

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