LAS VEGAS, Nev. – Whether it’s a brass letter “R,” a baby grand piano or a hotel ice machine you desire, it’s all there inside the Riviera — for a price.
The Las Vegas Strip hotel-casino that once hosted Frank Sinatra, Liberace and other big-name performers closed May 4, and a liquidation sale opened to the public there Thursday.
The Riviera Hotel and Casino’s new owners — the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority — plan to demolish the 60-year-old building by year’s end and replace it with an expanded convention centre.
That means everything in its 2,075 rooms has a price tag, and easily more than 1 million items are for sale, National Content Liquidators President Don Hayes said.
On Thursday morning, a line of people snaked around the Riviera as they waited for the chance to buy an $8 piece of hotel wall art, a $99 double-bed, a $25 well-worn pool lounge chair or a $2,200 roulette table without the wheel. Here’s a look at what else is inside:
For history buffs, employees and fans, the sale is a chance to own a piece of a Las Vegas fixture and explore “The Riv” and all its recesses, including a final peek at the suite Sinatra filled while he performed there.
Though the sale officially started Thursday, two groups got first dibs a day early: former Riviera workers and current employees of the convention and visitors authority. They snagged flat-screen TVs, vacuum cleaners, mini fridges and more.
For everyone else, admission is $10 per person during the first four days, which likely will be the busiest. After that, it’s free.
The sale continues through mid-June, or until everything is sold.
The Riviera is nothing if not a haven for brass accents, including the large three-tiered hexagonal chandelier affixed to the ceiling. The three price tags hanging from it add up to $4,300.
Hayes said his company would shut off electricity to the light fixture, but it would be up to any would-be buyer to get it loose from the ceiling and take it home.
Otherwise, “it’ll be there when the building goes down,” he said.
The company acted quickly to remove the brass “R” logos from the exterior doors the second the hotel closed. Hayes said they knew the letters would be popular buys when “everyone started trying to steal them.”
The letters — about 1 foot tall and 3 feet across — cost $350 each. Other items for sale include a baby grand piano for $6,200 and a hotel ice machine for $625.
Sean Caudill, 21, wanted one of the letters but decided they were too expensive.
Instead, he hunted for a glossy black-and-white photo of Joan Rivers in the Riviera’s comedy club, still lit by pink neon and with the baby grand on stage.
Caudill found treasures in one of The Riv’s “secret rooms,” an area that was the check-in counter until it was sealed off behind a temporary wall. There, neon squiggles still danced on the walls like ghosts where no one could see them.
The native Las Vegan said he would return to the sale with his 35-millimeter polaroid in tow to capture the casino-hotel’s last moments. Its last night open, he stayed and did cannonballs into the pool.
“This is Frank’s,” said Donna Henry, a former Riviera showroom usher, before she walked into the hotel room once inhabited by Sinatra.
In her 30 years working at the casino-hotel, she had never seen the two-bedroom suite. On Wednesday, she and fellow ushers Kyle Lihilihi and Daniel Rabena climbed into the empty Jacuzzi tub for a group photo to mark the occasion.
Rabena, arms outstretched, took it in.
“Frank Sinatra stood in this room,” he said.
For Henry, the last glimpse of the place she called home during many milestones was a sad one but also a chance to see some of her former co-workers one last time.
It also allowed her to claim the sign for the comedy club she was a part of from the time it opened in 1985 to when it closed this month.