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Michael Jackson's Neverland Foreclosure Woes

Michael Jackson's Neverland
AP
Michael Jackson's Neverland

More than 233,000 properties were foreclosed in the U.S. in January, according to some stats just released this week. Well, Michael Jackson could be one of the thousands of foreclosures in March (Does Michael Jackson still count as a celebrity?)

If Jackson doesn't pay his $24.5 million dollar loan by March 19, his Neverland ranch will be foreclosed. That very day, the 2,800 acre property and everything on it and in it--from ferris wheels to furniture--will be auctioned off on the steps of the Santa Barbara courthouse.

Such a large foreclosure is incredibly rare. To buy an enormous estate, usually banks demand that buyers put down a 25 percent down payment, and they check for proof of substantial liquid reserves. (That's what Coldwell Banker's number seven broker in the U.S., Michael Libow tells me). So there's no huge trend of celebrity foreclosures.

But Jackson isn't the only celebrity who can't pay his bills. Disgraced Olympic athlete Marion Jones' Capel Hill mansion was foreclosed last year. And just this week Victoria Hearst's Palm Beach, Florida mansion sold in foreclosure auction for $22 million. It was bought by New Stream Capital, which already holds three mortgages on the 52-bedroom property, totaling over $40 million dollars. (Diana Olick blogged about it on Monday.)

Golf legend Greg Norman was poking around at that auction, so maybe one celeb's foreclosure is another's find. So who will buy Neverland ranch if it goes up on the block on March 19? It could be a great corporate retreat. Or maybe another rich celeb will snap it up and make it his or her playground.

Questions? Comments? MediaMoney@cnbc.com

  • Working from Los Angeles, Boorstin is CNBC's media and entertainment reporter and editor of CNBC.com's Media Money section.