Las Vegas

Is Steve Wynn’s fabled art collection in play as MGM Grand bid for Mirage Resorts?

Casinos at war: art in the crossfire


As The Art Newspaper went to press, it was announced that the hotel and gaming company MGM Grand was making a “friendly” bid to take over Mirage Resorts, a rival corporation headed by Steve Wynn. In speculation of what such a merger might entail, questions arise about the fate of the Mirage Resorts’ art collection, which has been estimated to be worth around $300 million.

In the past several years, Mr Wynn has made a name for himself as one of the world’s pre-eminent collectors of blue-chip art, buying both for himself and on behalf of Mirage Resorts (among other high profile purchases is the Cézanne still life which sold at Sotheby’s in May 1999 for $60.5 million, the fourth highest price ever paid for a painting).

The best of these works are displayed in a special gallery at the Bellagio, a northern Italian-themed hotel in the Mirage Resorts group. In addition to being a great draw for visitors (and being tax exempt because of the public display), the art has also, somewhat controversially, been available for purchase.

In recent times, Mr Wynn has come under fire from the board of Mirage Resorts for extravagant spending, including his rapid expansion of the art collection.

Mixed results at other Mirage casinos have affected the company’s share price and made the corporation susceptible to bids from other companies competing for the lion’s share of the Vegas tourism and gaming industry. The day the announcement was made, the share price for Mirage rose sharply: up 30% to $14.25, indicating a favourable response to MGM’s offer, which expires on 8 March.

Mirage has released a short statement saying that the “unsolicited” offer will be “considered”. Neither party would comment about the fate of the art collection, although as one art advisor pointed out, “When companies take over one another, they like to clean house.

Originally appeared in The Art Newspaper as 'Casinos at war: art in the crossfire'