Steve Wynn and his longtime interior designer, Roger Thomas, are teaming up again, possibly for the last time, on what Wynn describes as "the work of a lifetime."
In a wide-ranging interview that included details about wife Andrea’s growing role and a Secret Santa confession, Wynn vowed his $4 billion Macau resort will top anything he’s done during his 30-year association with Thomas.
And on top of that massive 6 million-square-foot Macau project, which took 28 months of planning, Wynn, 70, said he approached Thomas for a personal favor.
"I said, ‘I know you’re up to your ass in (Macau).’ I said, ‘Have you got the time?’ "
Thomas responded in a New York minute.
"He said, ‘That’s the best apartment in New York City. I’ve got to do it.’ "
Thomas was referring to Wynn’s purchase of a $70 million penthouse on the 30th and 31st floors of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel, overlooking Central Park.
"It’s an extraordinary space. It’s just really delicious," Thomas told me Tuesday at the launch of his new jewelry line at Wynn Las Vegas.
Wynn gave Thomas one charge for the Macau project.
"He said, ‘Honor China,’ " according to Thomas, who said he intends to "pay homage to this great and extraordinary culture."
At the grand opening Thursday of the new restaurant Mizumi, in the former Okada space at Wynn Las Vegas, I asked Wynn what Thomas has meant to his empire.
"Only everything," he said.
Their vision of the Macau project?
Symbolic sculptural items, tapestries and paintings will trump marble, onyx and crystal chandeliers, Wynn said. The idea is to "decorate the place with what reminds people they are in China and that these things are a part of their history."
Wynn has been collecting Chinese cultural artifacts for years.
Among them: He paid $13 million for four porcelain vases from the 18th century dynasty. Only eight are in existence. The other four are in Buckingham Palace.
When he learned a golden tree is a symbol of a Chinese emperor’s prosperity, Wynn had Tony Award-winning costume designer Michael Curry create a golden tree built with 92,000 14-carat gold leaves.
He ruffled more than shareholders’ feathers in 2006 when he donated a $10.1 million Ming dynasty vase to the Macau Museum. The vase had been taken to Taiwan by Chiang Kai-shek, and "the Chinese have been trying to take Taiwan back and the stuff Chiang Kai-shek took with them (including the vase)," Wynn said.
Andrea Wynn, his wife of one year, will work with Thomas on the New York City apartment.
"She has the designer gene," Wynn said. "Remember, her name was Novak. Her grandparent built the Fontainebleau (in Miami) and the Laurel hotel in the Adirondacks. She was brought up in those hotels like ‘Eloise in the Plaza.’ "
She was in "every session" during the design process of the Encore Beach Club, Wynn said. "She did it with me."
Wynn said one of their pet projects has been the Animal Foundation.
Wynn confirmed he gave a $5 million gift to the foundation in December. His wife joined the foundation’s board a couple months ago.
"We are animal nuts," he said.
The biggest surprise of the interview came at the end when he brought up the subject of his salary.
"It was in the paper that Steve Wynn made $16 million," he said.
Well, he added, "Last year I gave away 125 percent of my salary. I gave away $20 million. You know that Secret Santa Claus program for 1,000 people? Well, that’s us. And I don’t want to say this, but I did it again in April. Another million bucks. The United Way gives me the name of the families in the toughest shape."
Recipients can use the $500 cards at any Walmart, he said, "for anything but alcohol."
At the Manny Pacquiao-Tim Bradley fight at MGM Grand Garden on Saturday: Mike Tyson, Mark Wahlberg, Mario Lopez, Reggie Miller, Jeremy Renner and Jason Biggs. … On the Marquee VIP stage at the Electric Daisy Carnival on Friday: Paris Hilton, Shaun Phillips, Holly Madison and Laura Croft. … Scottish DJ Calvin Harris, a resident performer at Wynn, tweeted about 3 a.m. Saturday that he had been "kicked off the decks" at Tryst nightclub. The reason: "For not playing Carly Rae Jepsen + hip hop." Jesse Waits, managing partner of Tryst and XS, said, "We would never ask a headlining DJ to adjust their playlist or step down from a set." Harris later deleted the tweet.
"A new study claims that coffee drinkers live longer than people who don’t drink coffee. Of course, they spend so much time waiting in line at Starbucks that it evens out." – Conan O’Brien
Norm Clarke can be reached at 702-383-0244 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Find additional sightings and more online at www.normclarke.com. Follow Norm on Twitter @Norm_Clarke.