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THE VEGAS NAME GAME: Round 5

Don’t be surprised that we’ve reached Round 5, because Vegas what-the-f*ckery comes in an unlimited supply.

Welcome back, players! In Round 4, we dug our fork into restaurants that inspired hotels, and a pair of hotels that thought they were restaurants. Now we’re at level five, with a resort that WAS going to be named after a Picasso painting. That didn’t quite work out.

When you’re an extremely wealthy man like Steve Wynn, you can do almost anything. Well, until 2018, when he was accused of multiple acts of sexual harassment, for which Wynn watched his empire crumble. Before then, the casino mogul was considered the most powerful man in Las Vegas. Without him, there might not be Mirage, Treasure Island, Bellagio, or…Wynn Las Vegas.

Yes, the visionary behind those landmark resorts has made an undeniable impact on Sin City…one that will last for decades to come. An avid art collector and fan of show tunes, Wynn was instrumental in bringing the music of Broadway to the Las Vegas Strip. Even though he didn’t always succeed (Spamalot and Avenue Q were notorious misfires), Wynn can proudly take credit for SHOWSTOPPERS and his most successful production – LE REVE The Dream.

Le R ve The Dream at Wynn Las Vegas

Although it didn’t survive 2020’s COVID entertainment massacre, LE REVE ran for fifteen years and was selected as “Best Production” season after season. The dance/acrobatic spectacular was created and directed by Franco Dragone, who was coming off successes with Cirque du Soleil’s “O” and “Mystere”. Venturing out on his own with a new company, Dragone was commissioned to create something inspired by Wynn’s favorite painting – “Le Reve” by Picasso.

Wynn’s relationship with this 1932 French piece of art is a story unto itself. He purchased it in 2001 for an estimated $60 million, where it became the centerpiece of his collection. His fascination for “Le Reve” was so deep that he considered naming his new resort after it. However, considering the political friction between France and the United States at that time, it was decided to go with “Wynn Las Vegas” instead.

As a way of working Le Reve into the hotel-casino’s personality, Franco Dragone’s show would depict “the dream” in an aquatic theater in the round. And so Wynn Las Vegas opened on April 28, 2005, and Le Reve – A Small Collection of Imperfect Dreams (the show’s original name) debuted two weeks later.

Wynn Las Vegas was an immediate hit. Le Reve, the show…not so much. Critics were harsh, audiences stayed away, and the production underwent a significant retooling. As for the painting, it too required a major repair. Wynn accidentally put his elbow through it in 2006, resulting in a six-inch rip. The reconstruction cost upwards of $90K, yet the value of the painting continued to soar. It was sold in 2013 for $155 million, making a tidy profit for the mogul.

The resort continued to grow as well, with a second tower rising in 2008. Named Encore Resort, the expansion added another two thousand rooms to the luxury complex. A growing collection of popular nightclubs shifted Wynn/Encore‘s client base away from the established wealthy and toward obnoxious trust-fund Californians with a penchant for rap music. Naturally, this has led to the type of violence and brawls that are routine at The Cromwell (see Round 3 for more on that dumpster fire).

Fight in ENCORE HOTEL LAS VEGAS LABOR WEEKEND 2020

When Steve Wynn’s sex scandals drove the board into crisis mode. It considered distancing itself from the resort’s creator by renaming the entire place as “Encore”. So far, that hasn’t happened. LE REVE – The Dream gave its final performance on March 10th, 2020. Its custom-built multi-million-dollar theater is currently being stripped out, supposedly in preparation for a new production.

The very exclusive Wynn Golf Club was closed in December 2017 to be replaced by Steve Wynn’s next dream – Paradise Park. The $1.5 billion lagoon project was jettisoned after Wynn’s ouster and the golf course resumed operations two years later. A second expansion of the resort, code-named “Wynn West”, was also put on hold, once again thanks to Wynn’s downfall. Wynn Plaza, the resort’s third shopping esplanade, opened in 2018 and has been a major disappointment.

Steve Wynn resigned as CEO of Wynn Resorts on February 6th, 2018. Trying to salvage the image of the very company he founded, Wynn paid $41 million dollars back after it was sued by shareholders for keeping his secrets. He also sold off his shares for $700 million and moved from an on-property villa he’d occupied for over a decade.

At the age of 79, billionaire Steve Wynn now lives in relative obscurity. He suffers from a degenerative eye disease and has endured decades of lawsuits, two divorces, and the kidnapping of his daughter. The former King of Las Vegas will undoubtedly be remembered as one of the most influential men in the city’s history. But in hindsight, it may be a blessing that the resort which became his personal nightmare was never named “The Dream”.

Steve Wynn, American Dad

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