The Collections of Steve Wynn

Steve Wynn is a giant in the world of casinos, and is credited with revitalising Las Vegas during the 1990s.

He created or re-created some of its best recognised establishments, including the Golden Nugget, The Mirage, Treasure Island, and Bellagio. 



Wynn was born Steven Allan Weinberg in Connecticut. His father, who ran some bingo parlours in the eastern states, changed the family name to 'Wynn', as a marketing strategy, or to escape anti-Semitism, or both.

Not long after his father's sudden death during heart surgery, the younger Wynn took over the Maryland bingo parlour and made enough profit from it to buy a stake in Las Vegas' Frontier Hotel and Casino. He never looked back.

Now owner of the largest casinos in Las Vegas, as well as holding a significant stake in the world's new gaming capital, Macau, Wynn has a fortune of between $1.5bn and $2bn, and has been able to afford a world class art collection.

This includes works by Paul Cézanne, Paul Gauguin, Vincent van Gogh, Édouard Manet, Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, Andy Warhol, Johannes Vermeer ...and Sylvester Stallone. (Wynn bought an abstract piece by Stallone for $40,000 a matter of weeks back.)

Like fellow collector Bill Gates, Wynn does not collect as an investment, as can be seen in the prices he has paid for some of his pieces.

For Giudecca, La Donna Della Salute and San Giorgio, he paid $35.8m - a record for a work by the artist JMW Turner - and whilst he refuses to confirm the fact, it is an open secret that he paid the record £20.2m ($33.2m) for Rembrandt's Portrait of a Man with Arms Akimbo at Christie's in December 2009.

Rembrandt's Portrait of a Man
Rembrandt's Portrait of a Man with arms akimbo

This is three times as much as for his previous Rembrandt purchase, a self-portrait which was sold for $11.3m at Sotheby's in 2003.

Whilst not collecting as an investment, Wynn was hoping to sell a Picasso, Le Rêve at a profit, for $139m in 2006 (having bought it for $48.4m in 1997). Unfortunately, whilst announcing the sale, he put his elbow through the painting, leading to a multi-million legal wrangling with an insurance company.

The rest of the art collection is not kept separate from Wynn's work as the majority of it is housed in the Bellagio for guests and gamblers to view in their quieter moments.

Small wonder the Bellagio was one of Danny Ocean's favourite targets in Ocean's Eleven (2001).

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