A little piece of Las Vegas died Thursday. Its corpse smelled like an old tuxedo — an old, wet tuxedo that had been left at the bottom of a pile of clothes at the back of the closet for decades to molder, sucked of whatever life it used to have by cigarette smoke.
It died on a sofa, red with stripes, $325.
It died under a chandelier, gorgeous and dangling outside the casino lounge, $6,500.
It died on the bargain table, where shot glasses labeled with the once iconic Sahara Hotel and Casino’s logo were selling at two for a dollar.
This is how we do things here, in the city that never sleeps, in the city that reinvents itself when the party slows down.
We Kevorkian our elderly, wrinkled properties, either gently nudging them toward the precipice or outright pushing them off the cliff so new beauties can take their place.
And so it has been for the Sahara, more than 21,000 days after it opened, almost two months after it shut down for good.
The people in charge of the place said it wasn’t making money anymore. It is at the wrong end of the Strip, the end with the shuttered dump on one side of it and the hulking skeleton of an abandoned $3 billion project on the other. A victim of the economy, a victim of the times, a victim of Vegas: The Next Generation.
So Everything Must Go!
The liquidators came in last month. They put price tags on everything that wasn’t nailed down. They put price tags on everything that was nailed down, too.
You want the Box Office sign? It’s yours. A booth from the House of Lords? Just back your pickup up to the loading dock.
You can have the ash trays and the alarm clocks, the stainless steel kitchen doodads and the mattress from the room at the end of the hall on the 24th floor. You can take the armoire and the mirror and the desk. The bar stools and the blackjack table, the irons and the hair dryers.
Reinvent yourself. Reinvent your life. Pretend you live in an aging hotel that once boasted of the Rat Pack, before we all moved past that too.
The sale entered its fourth week on Thursday. The doors opened at 10 a.m. Seven or eight people crowded around. Unlike in the first few days, there was no rush. There’s plenty left for everyone.
“Seventeen hundred rooms, it takes awhile,” said Greg Hall, the operations manager for this job. He works for National Content Liquidators, an outfit out of Ohio.
He said they’ll stick around through mid-August, or until they sell everything. Whichever comes first.
Outside the poker room, a haphazard row of the carts the maids use to clean the rooms stood like drunken sentinels. They carried tiny shampoo bottles. They carried trash. They carried a small pile of Bibles, a gift of the Gideons. They looked brand new.
Into this stepped Rochelle Moser and Tony Laron. They have been together 31 years. They are retired from the movie business in Los Angeles.
They bought an ash tray with a sticker price of $85.
This one was for a friend. They had already gotten another one for themselves.
They will polish it up — it is a fine copper ashtray-trash can combo, about 3 feet tall, with a brass ring around the top — and use it as a planter out on the patio, perhaps.
“This is the last of the old ones,” Laron said. He was talking about the old Vegas hotels, the ones like the Sands and Castaways, the Dunes and the Hacienda. Some of them still stand —- the Flamingo, for example —- but he had made his point.
“Once it’s gone,” Moser said, “it’s gone.”
The old Vegas is indeed gone. It died, piece by piece, smelling like cigarette smoke, with a sticker price on its corpse.
Contact reporter Richard Lake at email@example.com or 702-383-0307.