Steve Wynn Portrait
|Born||Stephen Alan Weinberg
January 27, 1942
New Haven, Connecticut, U.S.
|Residence||Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S.|
|Alma mater||B.A. University of Pennsylvania|
|Occupation||CEO of Wynn Resorts Limited|
|Net worth||$4 billion (June 2014)|
|Spouse(s)||Elaine Wynn (divorced)
Stephen Alan "Steve" Wynn (born January 27, 1942) is an American business magnate. He played a pivotal role in the 1990s resurgence and expansion of the Las Vegas Strip. His companies refurbished or built what are now widely recognized resorts in Las Vegas, including the Golden Nugget, The Mirage, Treasure Island, Bellagio, Wynn, and Encore.
Now, as Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of Wynn Resorts, Limited, Wynn has developed Wynn Las Vegas, which opened on April 28, 2005; Wynn Macau, which opened in September 2006; Encore Las Vegas, which opened December 22, 2008; and Encore at Wynn Macau, which opened on April 21, 2010. As of June 2014, Wynn is the 428th richest man in the world with a net worth of $4 billion. In November 2014, Wynn ranked 17th on Harvard Business Review’s list of 100 best-performing CEOs in the world. The study noted his founding position in Wynn Resorts and his market capitalization change of $22 billion, and he secured a total industry adjusted shareholder return of 1,944% and a country adjusted total shareholder return of 2,164%.
Wynn was born Stephen Alan Weinberg in New Haven, Connecticut. His father, Michael, who ran a string of bingo parlors in the eastern United States, changed the family's last name in 1946 from "Weinberg" to "Wynn" when Steve was six years old "to avoid anti-Jewish discrimination". Wynn was raised in Utica, New York, and graduated from The Manlius School, a private boys' school east of Syracuse, New York, in 1959. Steve Wynn studied cultural anthropology and English literature at the University of Pennsylvania, where he was a member of the Sigma Alpha Mu fraternity.
In 1963, his father died of complications from open heart surgery in Minneapolis, leaving $350,000 of gaming debts, shortly before Wynn graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English Literature.
Frontier and the Golden Nugget
Wynn took over running the family's bingo operation in Maryland. His success allowed him to invest in a small stake for the Frontier Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, where he and his wife, Elaine, moved in 1967. Between 1968 and 1972 he also owned and operated a wine and liquor importing company. He managed to parlay his profits from a land deal in 1971 (the deal involved Howard Hughes and Caesars Palace) into a controlling interest in the landmark downtown casino, the Golden Nugget Las Vegas (he would later open the Golden Nugget Atlantic City in Atlantic City, New Jersey). Wynn renovated, revamped and expanded the Golden Nugget from a gambling hall to a resort hotel and casino with enormous success, in the process attracting a new upscale clientele to downtown Las Vegas. Frank Sinatra was a headliner at the Golden Nugget. Wynn maintains a relationship with Sinatra family, and named a restaurant at Encore “Sinatra”.
1990s: The Mirage, Treasure Island and Bellagio
Wynn's first major Strip casino was The Mirage, which opened in November 1989. The hotel, with its erupting volcano and South Seas theme, ignited a $12 billion building boom on the Strip. While he had previously acquired interests in various existing casinos, the Mirage was the first project in which he was involved in the design and construction of a casino. The $630 million cost to build it was financed largely with junk bonds issued by Michael Milken. It was considered a high-risk venture by the standards then prevailing in Las Vegas because of its high cost and emphasis on luxury. However, it became enormously lucrative and made Wynn a major part of Las Vegas history.
In 1991, Golden Nugget, Incorporated was renamed Mirage Resorts, Incorporated.
Wynn's next project was Treasure Island Hotel and Casino, built in what had been the north parking lot of the Mirage. It opened in October 1993 at a cost of $450 million. In the front of the resort, facing the Strip, the Battle of Buccaneer Bay was acted out between two full-sized pirate ships. It featured stunt combat, high dives, cannon fire, and one ship sinking beneath the water. Inside the Four-Diamond property is a casino resort with a romantic tropical theme. The Cirque du Soleil show at the Treasure Island was the first permanent Cirque du Soleil show in Las Vegas.
In October 1998, Wynn opened the even more opulent Bellagio, a $1.6 billion resort considered among the world’s most spectacular hotels. The architect was Jon Jerde of The Jerde Partnerships. When built, Bellagio was the most expensive hotel in the world. Today, visitors line the street in front of the hotel to watch the “Fountains of Bellagio”—shooting fountains choreographed to music that “dance” on the hotel’s 8.5 acre man-made lake. The Bellagio is credited with starting a new spree of luxurious developments in Las Vegas. Among these developments include The Venetian, Mandalay Bay, and Paris Las Vegas.
1999: Beau Rivage
In 1999, Wynn brought Mirage Resorts’ style to Biloxi, Mississippi, where he oversaw development of the 1,835-room Beau Rivage. Blending Mediterranean beauty with Southern hospitality, the resort was part of a building boom that established Biloxi as a regional tourism center along the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Beau Rivage was originally the name he wanted to give to the Bellagio but after Wynn vacationed in Italy, he decided Bellagio, after the Italian region of Bellagio, was the better name for the hotel.
2000-2015: Recent projects
- Going public and Wynn Las Vegas
Mirage Resorts was sold to MGM Grand Inc. for $6.6 billion ($21 a share) in June 2000 to form MGM Mirage. Five weeks before the deal was closed (April 27, 2000) Wynn purchased the Desert Inn for $270 million. He closed the Inn in only 18 weeks, and with the money he made on that deal, and with his ability to secure ever-greater financing, Wynn took Wynn Resorts Limited public in 2002. Wynn became a billionaire in 2004, when his net worth doubled to $1.3 billion. On April 28, 2005 he opened his most expensive resort to that date, the Wynn Las Vegas, on the site of the former Desert Inn.
Wynn successfully bid for one of three gaming concessions that were opened for tender in Macau, a Special Administrative Region (SAR) of China, which has a long history of gaming and is the largest gaming market in the world, having surpassed Las Vegas in 2006. This property, known as Wynn Macau, opened on September 5, 2006. A year later Wynn Macau underwent a significant expansion, increasing retail amenities, food and beverage options, and gaming space. In 2008 Wynn Macau became the fifth Asian hotel to receive the Mobil Five-Star award, with Wynn accepting the award on behalf of Wynn Macau. As of 2014 Wynn Macau includes over 265,000 square feet of casino space, as well as two luxury towers with approximately 1,000 rooms and suites.
- Encore projects
In the summer of 2008, hiring began for Encore Las Vegas, the newest in Wynn's collection of resorts (the tower of Encore is modeled after the Wynn Las Vegas tower, and in fact, they share the same "property" though they are separate hotels). Encore opened on December 22, 2008. As of December 31, 2012, Wynn and Encore Las Vegas employed approximately 9,000 full-time employees. Encore at Wynn Macau, an expansion of Wynn Macau similar to the expansion of the Las Vegas property, opened on April 21, 2010. Construction on Wynn Palace on the Cotai Strip in Macau began in early 2013.
- Wynn Everett project
In September 2014, Wynn was awarded the license to build a casino in the eastern Massachusetts city of Everett, near downtown Boston. Wynn’s casino proposition had been selected over a proposition by Mohegan Sun, which would have built a casino in nearby Revere. Wynn Resorts hailed the project as a “great invigorator of economic development and job creation,” and announced the project would entail around 1,700 construction jobs and around 3,300 full-time jobs, with salary averaging at $56,000.  Wynn Resorts also stated they were organizing other benefits for the Wynn Everett project, including a $30 million "community enhancement bonus," $20 million in yearly payments for real estate taxes, $5 million in yearly payments for police and fire services, and $250,000 per year for the Everett Citizens Foundation.
Wynn is known for amassing a large collection of fine art, often placing the pieces in his various casinos and hotels. In 2004, Wynn purchased Johannes Vermeer’s “Young Woman Seated at a Virginal" at a Sotheby’s auction for $30 million. With the purchase, he became the first art collector to purchase a Vermeer painting in over 80 years. It would be one of only two Vermeers still in private hands (the other is owned by Queen Elizabeth II). Wynn later sold the painting to the Leiden Collection owned by Thomas Kaplan for the same price.
In 2006, Wynn acquired J. M. W. Turner’s “Giudecca, La Donna Della Salute and San Giorgio” for $35.8 million via an anonymous telephone auction. Although Wynn did not officially identify himself as the buyer, his identity was confirmed by two people acquainted with the transaction. Wynn purchased the painting from the St. Francis of Assisi Foundation, a White Plains-based nonprofit organization that supports Capuchin priests on their missionary trips.
Steve Wynn's private art collection with specific commentary about his paintings by Claude Monet are highlighted in the 2008 film Monet's Palate with Meryl Streep and distributed by American Public Television. Many of the collection's pieces were on display at the Bellagio. The collection was on display at the Nevada Museum of Art in Reno while the Wynn Las Vegas was being constructed and was installed in the resort shortly before it was opened. The Wynn Las Vegas gallery, which had charged an entrance fee, closed shortly after the start of 2006. The artwork from the former gallery is now scattered around the resort. Although the artwork is owned personally by Wynn, Wynn Resorts pays an annual lease of $1. As part of the lease agreement, insurance and security are the responsibility of the company.
Under the direction of Steve Wynn, Wynn Resorts acquired Jeff Koons’s "Tulips" at auction in November 2012 for approximately $33.6 million. In May 2014, Wynn acquired "PopeyeP" from the same artist for over $28,000,000, putting the work on display at Wynn Las Vegas.
The centerpiece of the collection is Le Rêve, the Picasso portrait that was the working name of the resort project. Wynn purchased the painting from an anonymous collector in a private sale in 2001. In 2006 he reportedly was to sell it to Steven A. Cohen for $139 million, which would at that time have been the highest price paid for any piece of art. However, he put his elbow through the canvas while showing it to a group of guests—including the screenwriter Nora Ephron and her husband Nick Pileggi, the broadcaster Barbara Walters, the art dealer Serge Sorokko and his wife, the model Tatiana Sorokko, the New York socialite Louise Grunwald, and the lawyer David Boies and his wife, Mary.
This canceled the sale, and after a $90,000 repair, the painting was estimated to be worth $85 million. Wynn sued his insurance company over the $54 million difference with the virtual selling price, possibly exceeding his own buying price. The case was settled out of court in April 2007.
Peasant woman with a Straw Hat (1890), Van Gogh.
Fiori di Cuomo (1998), Dale Chihuly.
Tulips (2004), Jeff Koons.
Wynn married Elaine Farrell Pascal in 1963. They divorced in 1986, remarried in 1991, and divorced again in 2010. Elaine Wynn remains a director of the company's board. Wynn once said he bought the Desert Inn casino, the site of his Wynn Las Vegas, as a birthday gift for his wife. Steve Wynn currently resides in a private villa at Wynn Las Vegas, while Elaine Wynn resides in the couple's mansion inside Southern Highlands Golf Club. They have two daughters, Kevyn and Gillian. Kevyn was kidnapped in 1993 and Wynn paid $1.45 million in ransom for her safe return. The kidnappers were apprehended when one attempted to buy a Ferrari in Newport Beach, California, with cash. Kevyn was found unharmed several hours later. Kevyn and Gillian Wynn are mothers who engage in charity work.
In 2010, Wynn switched to a vegan diet after watching the documentary Eating by Mike Anderson. According to Wynn, his vegan diet was also inspired by a guest on his yacht in St. Tropez, who discussed the environmental and health consequences of eating meat. After becoming a vegan, Wynn announced that he would add animal-free menus to all his restaurants.
In December 2010, Prince Albert II of Monaco bestowed Monegasque citizenship to Wynn. This was unusual since a prerequisite of Monegasque citizenship is to reside there for at least ten continuous years and contribute in some major way, and Wynn has never resided there. According to the Las Vegas Sun, Wynn was given the citizenship when he agreed to serve as outside director in the Monaco QD International Hotels and Resorts Management, which is a joint venture between the governments of Monaco and Qatar. The organization buys and manages hotels in Europe, the Middle East and North America.
Wynn has previously described himself as a Democrat, and has supported Nevada Senator Harry Reid. However, over the last few years, Wynn has been very critical of President Barack Obama, whom he originally supported and voted for in the 2008 Election. He has accused Obama of being a job killer rather than a job creator, and has stated that he has created friction between him and his employees with the use of class warfare tactics. He has also stated that Obama has been the biggest "wet blanket" to business in his lifetime.
Wynn Resorts contributed $200,000 to the Republican Governors Association in the winter of 2013. Wynn, his wife and his company have all contributed to the RGA in recent years, giving $350,000 in 2011. 
In 2005, the Association of Travel Marketing Executives awarded Steve Wynn the ATLAS Lifetime Achievement Award for his innovation in building resorts in Las Vegas. In May 2006, Time magazine included Wynn as one of the World's 100 Most Influential People. Wynn was appointed to the Board of Trustees of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts by President George W. Bush on October 30, 2006.
In November 2006, Wynn was inducted into the American Gaming Association Hall of Fame. Wynn was also the recipient of an honorary doctorate degree at the University of Pennsylvania’s 250th Commencement Ceremony in recognition of his transformative vision of Las Vegas in 2006 and has since received honorary doctoral degrees from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas; Sierra Nevada College; The Culinary Institute of America; and Johnson & Wales University in Providence, Rhode Island.
Forbes magazine named him a “Captain of Capitalism” in 2007. Wynn was named to Institutional Investor's Best CEOs list in the All-America Executive Team Survey from 2008 through 2011. In 2009, Wynn received the Manfred Steinfeld Humanitarian Award at the 22nd Annual Platinum Circle Awards. In July 2009, a segment on Wynn was aired on the CBS News series 60 Minutes.
In March 2011, Barron's named Steve Wynn one of the 30 “World’s Best CEOs” while Fortune simultaneously recognized Wynn Resorts as one of the “World’s Most Admired Companies.” In September 2012, Wynn Resorts was the only Nevada company on Fortune Magazine's List of "100 Fastest-Growing Companies".
In February 2013, an independent study in the Las Vegas Review-Journal named Wynn Resorts as the Best Place to Work among large companies in Southern Nevada. The 12th Annual Bristol Associates and Spectrum Gaming Group Executive Satisfaction Survey Ranked Wynn Resorts as the No. 1 Employer of Choice.
In November 2014, Wynn ranked 17th on Harvard Business Review’s list of 100 best-performing CEOs in the world. The study noted his founding position in Wynn Resorts and his market capitalization change of $22 billion, and he secured a total industry adjusted shareholder return of 1,944% and a country adjusted total shareholder return of 2,164%.
In a legal battle over an attempt by Wynn-controlled Mirage to build a casino in Atlantic City, NJ, Donald Trump claimed in a lawsuit that Wynn used a private investigator as a double agent to secretly record conversations with Trump. The investigator, Louis Rodriguez, a former Los Angeles Police Officer and investigator for the IRS, claimed he had a change of heart because he felt that Trump used his efforts "in an immoral and unethical manner to cause financial harm" to Wynn and Mirage and thus turned "whistleblower." Wynn settled the lawsuit in 2000 and befriended Trump, who attended Wynn's wedding in 2011.
In 1991, Dennis Gomes, the president of Wynn's Golden Nugget left his position to join Donald Trump's Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City, NJ, receiving a $1 million bonus in lieu of equity. Wynn filed suit against Trump and Gomes for breach of contract, as Gomes was contracted to work at the Nugget until 1992. Gomes settled in 1994. Also in 1991, Gomes alleged in a countersuit that Wynn used harsh language against Gomes, but Wynn's representatives denied the allegations, implying that they were attempt to refocus the lawsuit from Gomes to Wynn.
Since 2008, Wynn has been in a dispute with Girls Gone Wild producer Joe Francis. In 2011, a Nevada district attorney prosecuted Francis for writing a bad check to cover a $2 million gambling debt owed to Wynn, but the judge dismissed the case for falling outside the six month statute of limitations. Wynn collected the debt in a separate civil case. In response to the collection, Francis stated that Wynn threatened to kill him, prompting Wynn to file suit for defamation against Francis. In February 2012, Clark County, Nevada judge Mark Denton ruled that Francis damaged the reputation of Wynn and awarded Wynn $7.5 million in damages. In September 2012, after Francis repeated the alleged threat on television and Wynn added a second defamation claim, a jury awarded Wynn $40 million in compensatory and punitive damages. The judgement was amended to $19 million.
In January 2012, Wynn's former business partner Kazuo Okada filed suit to gain access to company documents related to Wynn's pledge to donate $135 million to the University of Macau Development Foundation. Wynn later accused Okada's company, Aruze, Inc., of violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, leading to a Department of Justice probe into Aruze's gifts of hotel rooms and other expenses to Philippine, South Korean, and Japanese gaming officials. U.S.-based Aruze, Inc. is subject to the FCPA. In a March 2013 SEC filing, Wynn noted that while the Okada dispute could cut into Wynn's profits, beyond an "informal" SEC inquiry into the Macau donation, there was no formal investigation underway.
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Wynn owns an extensive art collection including paintings by Paul Cézanne, Paul Gauguin, Vincent van Gogh, Julian Hatton...
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