Howard Hughes is often hailed by his proponents and critics as either the “Savior of Las Vegas” or the “Harbinger of Corporate Vegas.” Whether you love him or hate him, even though he never built a building in Las Vegas, he has forever left his imprint in the culture and skyline of Las Vegas.
Although he had visited before Las Vegas during World War 2 and in the 1950’s his arrival in 1966, like a thief in the night, forever changed Las Vegas. Arriving by private train he was quickly swept away by his entourage to the Penthouse of the Desert Inn Hotel. The legend goes that when the General Manager of the Desert Inn, Moe Dalitz, asked him to leave the penthouse to make room for the expected New Year’s Eve guests Howard Hughes instead bought the property on the spot.
The Nevada State Governments and local officials quickly moved to embrace him and even though he refused to have his picture taken, be fingerprinted, or disclose his financial information, all necessary to attain a gaming license then and now, he was quickly given a gaming license by the Nevada Gaming Commission.
After buying the Desert Inn Hotel and Casino he quickly went on a buying spree; quickly acquiring the Sands (14.6 million), Frontier ($23 million) and the unfinished Landmark for 17 million. One of his most infamous stories centers on his acquisition of the Silver Slipper Hotel and Casino. According to legend while he was living in the Penthouse of the, next door, Frontier Hotel the brightly lit rotating iconic slipper bothered him at night and the mechanics of the slipper caused it to briefly stop when its toe was pointed at the window of his penthouse. Convinced that there was a photographer, either from the government of someone else, hidden in the slipper trying to take photos of him he asked the management of the Silver Slipper to turn off the slipper. After repeated refusals from the management of the Silver Slipper he finally bought the Silver Slipper and had the offending slipper filled with concrete.
In addition to his Strip properties he also acquired the North Las Vegas Airport and in an earlier property trade with the Bureau of Land Management a 40 square miles of land West of Las Vegas that would later become the Summerlin master planned community.
In 1970 after four years in Las Vegas Howard Hughes left Las Vegas just as he arrived, sneaking out in the middle of the night, never to return to the city that he had forever changed, depending on who you ask, for the better or the worse.
Howard Hughes dies six years later on April 5, 1976.
The Desert Inn was Hughes' first casino acquisition. He bought in after being asked to vacate the penthouse he had occupied since arriving Thanksgiving weekend 1966. Here at Spinettis we have memorabilia from that iconic Hotel & Casino. Here is your chance to own a piece of history from the first Hotel that Hughes purchased. We have collector grade used Casino Dice and Chips that are perfect as a gift or to add to a collection.
Although the space it occupies is now a parking lot its spirit lives on in the hearts and minds of Las Vegas aficionados. You too can own a piece of this Las Vegas legend, Spinettis offers a range of casino chips that span the years of its existence.