Sounds like Michael Jackson has found a way to beat the heated up California housing market: Buy in Bahrain.
The longtime Golden State resident has purchased 14 acres' worth of "palatial property" as a "potential new home" in the oil-rich Persian Gulf kingdom, the New York Post first reported Monday. His next-door neighbor is said to be Sheik Abdullah bin Hamad al Khalifa, a longtime friend.
Brian Oxman, a Jackson family attorney, said Tuesday he didn't have any information about his star client sealing a real-estate deal. He said he "probably" would have been informed had a sale gone through.
Jackson and his three children flew to Bahrain in late June, shortly after his acquittal in California on child-molestation charges. At the time, the pop star, in and out of hospitals, before, during and after his trial, was said to be unwinding at the palace of a Bahranian prince.
According to the newspaper, Jackson is quite taken with his new surroundings and quite fond of the local custom that sees people take to the streets in long, flowing, hooded garments known as djellabas. In the United States, when the mood struck, the singer sought to obscure his identity with a more garish collection of ski, surgical and Spider-Man masks.
Something else that might appeal to Jackson about Bahrain: Housing prices. Long rumored to be teetering on financial insolvency, the entertainer might have been bolstered to learn that while, say, $500,000 and change might buy a one-bedroom condo in Beverly Hills, the same six figures in Bahrain nets what Viviun.com, a Website specializing in international real estate, calls a "dream villa," complete with two swimming pools, one for adults and one for children.
Jackson, who turns 47 on Aug. 29, has called California his primary residence since hitting it big with the family business, the Jackson 5, in the 1970s. His Neverland Valley Ranch in Santa Barbara County, which he bought in 1988, has been valued at $100 million.
Since leaving his homeland, either on vacation or for good, Jackson has been, as expected, embraced by overseas audiences. Last month, his latest CD, The Essential Michael Jackson, topped the U.K. R&B album charts. Stateside, the same greatest-hits collection sold a slim 8,000 copies in its first week in release.
Presumably, it's all beautiful music when one is digging one's palatial property in Bahrain.