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SLS/Sahara Las Vegas says goodbye to ‘Sam by Starck’ statue

Updated August 28, 2019 - 9:25 am

Some thought he looked like the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. Others said he favored Poppin’ Fresh, the iconic Pillsbury Doughboy, if he were fencing without a rapier.

What he was — and now in past-tense — was designer and Phillipe Starck’s abstract statue “Sam by Starck,” an homage to former SLS Las Vegas owner Sam Nazarian. The 32-foot-tall structure was taken down Tuesday night, headed to the dumpster as part of owner Alex Meruelo’s re-branding of SLS Las Vegas.

And of course, in typical Las Vegas fashion, when something is destroyed, it’s done with dramatic flair, albeit a little toned down this time. There were fireworks, that lasted about a minute, followed by flames at the base of statue. Onlookers snapped photos, but there were no speeches.

And just like that, a front-end loader ripped “Sam” off his perch and loaded him up for his final resting place.

The hotel is going back to its original name and will officially become Sahara Las Vegas on Thursday. Changes at the resort are ongoing and will run through 2020, but in another nod to the original property, Meruelo Group has already named its new lounge Casbar Lounge, after the Sahara’s iconic live-music venue.

Nonetheless, the change in name is not a return to the hotel’s famous Moroccan theme, but a hint of nostalgia as Meruelo has said his family stayed at the property under its original name.

The company says that renovations are to include updates to the hotel lobby and guest check-in and porte cochere, with additional upgrades to be announced soon. The stage show “Blanc de Blanc” has opened in the Blanc de Blanc Theatre, the former Foundry venue.

As for what will be placed where “Sam” once stood, hotel officials said to expect palm trees. Very retro-Vegas.

John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His PodKats podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts. Contact him at jkatsilometes@reviewjournal.com. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.

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