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The life of Sheldon Adelson, the late casino billionaire behind The Venetian and Marina Bay Sands, who donated more than $120 million to Republican causes in 2020

Published by Business Insider on Wed, 13 Jan 2021


<p><img src="https://static6.businessinsider.com/image/5717e92252bcd020008bde68-1333/sheldon adelson.jpg" border="0" alt="Sheldon Adelson" data-mce-source="REUTERS/Tyrone Siu" data-mce-caption="Gambling giant Las Vegas Sands Corp's Chief Executive Sheldon Adelson speaks during an inteview with Reuters in Macau, China, December 18, 2015."></p><p></p><bi-shortcode id="summary-shortcode" data-type="summary-shortcode" class="mceNonEditable" contenteditable="false">Summary List Placement</bi-shortcode><p>Sheldon Adelson, owner of the world's largest casino company and a prominent Republican donor, <a style="font-family: Georgia, Times, sans-serif;" href="https://www.businessinsider.com/sheldon-adelson-dead-obituary-2021-1">died on January 11 at the age of 87.</a></p><p>He passed away from complications related to treatment for non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma, according to a statement from Las Vegas Sands, the company he owned.</p><p>Adelson was the Las Vegas billionaire behind some of the world's most iconic casinos and hotels, including the Venetian and the Palazzo hotels in Las Vegas and the Marina Bay Sands in Singapore made famous by "<a href="https://www.marinabaysands.com/entertainment/crazy-rich-asians-scenes.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Crazy Rich Asians.</a>" He was the chairman and majority shareholder of the world's largest casino operator, Las Vegas Sands.</p><p>The casino tycoon, who was worth an estimated $33 billion before his death, gave&nbsp;millions of dollars in political contributions to high-profile Republican politicians. <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/29/us/politics/the-man-behind-gingrichs-money.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Adelson gave at least $17 million</a> in political contributions to Newt Gingrich during his 2012 presidential campaign, according to The New York Times. And <a href="https://features.propublica.org/trump-inc-podcast/sheldon-adelson-casino-magnate-trump-macau-and-japan/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">he made at least $25 million</a> in political contributions to Trump, earning him the nickname "Trump's Patron-in-Chief."</p><p>In 2020, Adelson donated more than $120 million to Republican causes and candidates including Trump, according to the <a href="https://www.opensecrets.org/search'order=desc&amp;page=3&amp;q=sheldon+adelson&amp;sort=D&amp;type=donors">Center for Responsive Politics</a>.</p><p>Adelson was married to his wife, Miriam, for more than 30 years. The couple reportedly lived in a Las Vegas megamansion, owned a 300-foot superyacht, and <a href="https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/casino-mogul-sheldon-adelson-sets-record-with-18-hour-flight-from-israel-1.5481481" target="_blank" rel="noopener">traveled in a 380-passenger private jet.</a></p><p>Here's a look at the late Las Vegas billionaire's life, career, and wealth.</p><p><strong>SEE ALSO:&nbsp;<a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/billionaire-megadonors-sheldon-adelson-donald-trump-israel-2021-1" >In the land of billionaire megadonors, Sheldon Adelson was king</a></strong></p><p><strong>DON'T MISS:&nbsp;<a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/alexandre-arnault-rimowa-tiffany-lvmh-executive-2021-1" >Alexandre Arnault, the 28-year-old son of Europe's richest man, is now an executive at Tiffany & Co.</a></strong></p><h3>Sheldon Adelson, who died on January 11 at age 87, was the billionaire behind the world's largest casino operator, Las Vegas Sands.</h3><img src="https://static2.businessinsider.com/image/5cc362a1b14bf41dff6cb18b-400-300/sheldon-adelson-who-died-on-january-11-at-age-87-was-the-billionaire-behind-the-worlds-largest-casino-operator-las-vegas-sands.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><a href="https://www.sands.com/properties/all-properties.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Las Vegas Sands operates properties worldwide</a> including the Venetian Las Vegas, the Palazzo Las Vegas, the Sands Expo &amp; Convention Center, the Sands Macao, the Marina Bay Sands in Singapore, the Sands Bethlehem, and more.&nbsp;</p><p>The company reported <a href="https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/government-economy/sheldon-adelson-founder-of-las-vegas-sands-dies-at-87">$13.7 billion in revenue in 2019.</a></p></p><br/><br/><h3>Adelson came from humble beginnings, according to Bloomberg.</h3><img src="https://static4.businessinsider.com/image/5cccab60021b4c1e3d25dac3-400-300/adelson-came-from-humble-beginnings-according-to-bloomberg.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The son of a cab driver in Boston, <a href="https://www.bloomberg.com/billionaires/profiles/sheldon-g-adelson/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">his first jobs included selling newspapers</a> on street corners, selling ads in trade magazines, and serving as a court reporter.</p></p><br/><br/><h3>Adelson first started making big money in trade shows. He launched COMDEX, a technology trade show in Las Vegas, with partners in 1979.</h3><img src="https://static1.businessinsider.com/image/5ccc9118021b4c1b485f02a3-400-300/adelson-first-started-making-big-money-in-trade-shows-he-launched-comdex-a-technology-trade-show-in-las-vegas-with-partners-in-1979.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The trade show became <a href="https://www.bloomberg.com/billionaires/profiles/sheldon-g-adelson/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">one of the most attended in the world</a>, and in 1995, Adelson and his partners sold it along with other smaller shows to SoftBank for $862 million.</p></p><br/><br/><h3>Adelson didn't get into the casino business until he was 55 years old. In 1989, he bought the Sands Casino & Hotel in Las Vegas for $128 million.</h3><img src="https://static1.businessinsider.com/image/5ccc88b3021b4c17a66e73c4-400-300/adelson-didnt-get-into-the-casino-business-until-he-was-55-years-old-in-1989-he-bought-the-sands-casino-and-hotel-in-las-vegas-for-128-million.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><a href="https://www.thrillist.com/entertainment/las-vegas/the-10-best-implosions-in-las-vegas-history" target="_blank" rel="noopener">He demolished</a> the hotel in November 1996.</p></p><br/><br/><h3>It took two years and cost $1.5 billion to build The Venetian.</h3><img src="https://static3.businessinsider.com/image/5ccc9802021b4c1402033372-400-300/it-took-two-years-and-cost-15-billion-to-build-the-venetian.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>To imitate Venice, Italy, <a href="http://www.onlinenevada.org/articles/venetian-resort-hotel-casino" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Adelson ordered detailed renderings of the Doge's Palace</a>, Rialto Bridge, and Campanile tower.</p><p><a href="http://www.apimages.com/Search'query=sheldon+adelson&amp;ss=10&amp;st=es&amp;entitysearch=P%7CSheldon+Adelson%7C1B24F0DA2B964E5EBCDB3DD618FA1B65&amp;toItem=15&amp;orderBy=Newest&amp;searchMediaType=allmedia" target="_blank" rel="noopener">He also enlisted the help of a historian</a> from Venice who worked with the hotel's architects and interior designers.</p></p><br/><br/><h3>The Venetian opened in April 1999, celebrating 20 years on the Las Vegas strip in 2019.</h3><img src="https://static5.businessinsider.com/image/5ccc9292021b4c209848c8c7-400-300/the-venetian-opened-in-april-1999-celebrating-20-years-on-the-las-vegas-strip-in-2019.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><a href="https://www.reviewjournal.com/business/casinos-gaming/venetians-convention-model-transformed-las-vegas-strip-20-years-ago-video-1651400/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">"The Venetian's success in Las Vegas,</a> and particularly our convention-based business strategy, would end up being the basis for our company receiving coveted licenses in Macao and Singapore," Adelson said in a 2019 statement to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, a newspaper he owns.</p></p><br/><br/><h3>In 2004, Adelson opened the Sands Macau, which cost at least $265 million to build.</h3><img src="https://static1.businessinsider.com/image/5ccc9212021b4c1d605e5488-400-300/in-2004-adelson-opened-the-sands-macau-which-cost-at-least-265-million-to-build.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>It opened in 2004 as <a href="https://www.forbes.com/sites/muhammadcohen/2014/05/15/sands-macao-the-house-that-built-sheldon-adelson/#1482d2f55d1c" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Asia's first "American-style" casino</a> and went on to become "extraordinarily successful," according to Forbes.</p></p><br/><br/><h3>Adelson's Las Vegas Sands has reigned as the world's largest casino operator by revenue for years. But the COVID-19 pandemic hit the global casino industry hard.</h3><img src="https://static5.businessinsider.com/image/5bbe296b66fb3f3ce6575c32-400-300/adelsons-las-vegas-sands-has-reigned-as-the-worlds-largest-casino-operator-by-revenue-for-years-but-the-covid-19-pandemic-hit-the-global-casino-industry-hard.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>In 2019, the company reported <a href="https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/government-economy/sheldon-adelson-founder-of-las-vegas-sands-dies-at-87">$13.7 billion in revenue.</a></p><p>But in 2020 in Macau, where Adelson's company owns <a href="https://www.sandscasino.com/macao/our-casinos.html">several properties</a> and was planning further investment, casinos recorded their <a href="https://www.scmp.com/business/companies/article/3082433/macau-casinos-report-their-worst-april-record-gross-gambling">worst year in history,</a> with revenues down 97%.</p></p><br/><br/><h3>Adelson was also in the media business.</h3><img src="https://static1.businessinsider.com/image/5cccb6f6021b4c239b1b2155-400-300/adelson-was-also-in-the-media-business.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>In 2015, he <a href="https://www.reviewjournal.com/local/local-las-vegas/adelson-son-in-law-orchestrated-familys-purchase-of-las-vegas-review-journal/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">bought the Las Vegas Review-Journal for $140 million.</a></p><p>The newspaper was among a handful of <a href="https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2016/10/donald-trump-newspaper-endorsements-214390" target="_blank" rel="noopener">publications that endorsed Trump in the 2016 election.</a></p></p><br/><br/><h3>Adelson was married to doctor Miriam Adelson.</h3><img src="https://static3.businessinsider.com/image/5ccca603021b4c1bae2b2845-400-300/adelson-was-married-to-doctor-miriam-adelson.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Both were divorced when <a href="https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/rosiegray/miriam-adelson" target="_blank" rel="noopener">they met in the late 1980s.</a></p><p>It was reportedly <a href="https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/rosiegray/miriam-adelson" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Miriam's idea to make The Venetian in Las Vegas</a> Venice-themed after the couple vacationed in the Italian city for their honeymoon.</p><p>"Sheldon was the love of my life," Miriam said in a January 12 <a href="https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/statement-from-dr-miriam-adelson-on-the-passing-of-her-husband-sheldon-g-adelson-301206301.html">statement</a> following Adelson's death. "He was my partner in romance, philanthropy, political activism and enterprise. He was my soulmate."</p></p><br/><br/><h3>The Adelsons' home is reportedly a megamansion in Summerlin, an affluent Las Vegas planned community.</h3><img src="https://static4.businessinsider.com/image/5ccca49d021b4c221251b426-400-300/the-adelsons-home-is-reportedly-a-megamansion-in-summerlin-an-affluent-las-vegas-planned-community.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The <a href="https://www.reviewjournal.com/homes/real-estate-millions/the-mansion-master/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">multimillion-dollar home</a> on <a href="https://www.concord-sots.ct.gov/CONCORD/PublicInquiry'eid=9744&amp;businessID=0276986" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Trophy Hills Drive</a> appears to include a swimming pool and tennis courts.</p><p>In addition to the Las Vegas mansion, Adelson was said to have owned $52 million worth of property in Malibu, California. <a href="https://www.yolandaslittleblackbook.com/blog/2018/05/01/sheldon-adelson-buys-malibu-colony-house/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">The billionaire reportedly spent </a><a href="https://www.yolandaslittleblackbook.com/blog/2018/05/01/sheldon-adelson-buys-malibu-colony-house/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">about $52 million</a> on several properties in the Colony, an exclusive gated community in Malibu, which is beloved by Hollywood celebrities.</p></p><br/><br/><h3>Adelson also owned a 300-foot superyacht that he named "Queen Miri" after his wife, Miriam.</h3><img src="https://static1.businessinsider.com/image/5cccaffd021b4c050437cd84-400-300/adelson-also-owned-a-300-foot-superyacht-that-he-named-queen-miri-after-his-wife-miriam.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><a href="https://beam.land/yachts/inside-the-most-expensive-yacht-for-charter-731" target="_blank" rel="noopener">The yacht was originally called </a><a href="https://beam.land/yachts/inside-the-most-expensive-yacht-for-charter-731" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Annaliesse</a> when it was built in 2004 and then later renamed Delma.</p><p><a href="https://beam.land/yachts/inside-the-most-expensive-yacht-for-charter-731" target="_blank" rel="noopener">After Adelson bought the yacht in 2015</a>, he had it remodeled and extended in length by more than 21 feet, according to Beam Yachts. One yachting website puts <a href="https://www.superyachtfan.com/yacht-queen-miri.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Queen Miri's value at about $70 million.</a></p></p><br/><br/><h3>The Las Vegas billionaire traveled by private jet.</h3><img src="https://static2.businessinsider.com/image/5cccb2a4021b4c24a30bab32-400-300/the-las-vegas-billionaire-traveled-by-private-jet.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><a href="https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/casino-mogul-sheldon-adelson-sets-record-with-18-hour-flight-from-israel-1.5481481" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Adelson reportedly owned an Airbus A345</a>, which he once used to set a record for the longest flight ever to depart from Israel's Ben-Gurion International Airport. According to Haaretz, he made a 17-hour and 40-minute flight from Israel to Honolulu, Hawaii, in 2017.</p></p><br/><br/><h3>Adelson and his wife donated millions to Republican politicians and causes over the years.</h3><img src="https://static4.businessinsider.com/image/5914c8d2e559f119018b4909-400-300/adelson-and-his-wife-donated-millions-to-republican-politicians-and-causes-over-the-years.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/29/us/politics/the-man-behind-gingrichs-money.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Adelson gave at least $17 million</a> in political contributions to Gingrich during his 2012 presidential campaign, according to The New York Times.</p><p>In 2015 and 2016, Adelson donated thousands to Republican presidential candidates including Jeb Bush, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, and Trump, as well as to the National Republican Congressional Committee, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.</p><p>And in the 2018 election cycle, <a href="https://www.opensecrets.org/overview/topindivs.php'view=fc&amp;cycle=2018">Adelson and his wife were the top individual donors</a> to federal candidates and campaigns, donating almost $124 million to Republican causes, mostly via super PACs.</p></p><br/><br/><h3>Adelson has made at least $25 million in political contributions to Donald Trump, earning him the nickname "Trump's Patron-in-Chief."</h3><img src="https://static3.businessinsider.com/image/5ccca76a021b4c1da11a66d4-400-300/adelson-has-made-at-least-25-million-in-political-contributions-to-donald-trump-earning-him-the-nickname-trumps-patron-in-chief.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><a href="https://features.propublica.org/trump-inc-podcast/sheldon-adelson-casino-magnate-trump-macau-and-japan/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">The Adelsons wrote checks amounting to $20 million</a> during Trump's campaign and donated an extra $5 million for the inauguration festivities in 2016, according to ProPublica.</p><p>During Trump's reelection campaign in 2020, Adelson donated more than $120 million to Republican causes and candidates, including $45 million to the pro-Trump super-PAC Preserve America and $11,200 directly to Trump, according to the <a href="https://www.opensecrets.org/search'order=desc&amp;page=3&amp;q=sheldon+adelson&amp;sort=D&amp;type=donors">Center for Responsive Politics.</a></p><p>"I would put Adelson at the very top of the list of both <a href="https://features.propublica.org/trump-inc-podcast/sheldon-adelson-casino-magnate-trump-macau-and-japan/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">access and influence in the Trump administration</a>," Craig Holman of the watchdog group Public Citizen told ProPublica in 2018. "I've never seen anything like it before, and I've been studying money in politics for 40 years."</p></p><br/><br/><h3>Adelson is also a major donor to Jewish organizations.</h3><img src="https://static4.businessinsider.com/image/5ccca8d1021b4c1d554c69c4-400-300/adelson-is-also-a-major-donor-to-jewish-organizations.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><a href="https://www.forbes.com/profile/sheldon-adelson/#62869f6e4a22" target="_blank" rel="noopener">He's given at least $410 million to the Birthright program</a> that provides funding for trips to Israel for young Jewish adults, according to Forbes.</p><p>He also gave about $50 million to Yad Vashem, the Holocaust museum and memorial in Israel, and was a major donor to the <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/29/us/politics/the-man-behind-gingrichs-money.html" data-analytics-module="body_link" data-analytics-post-depth="80">American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).</a></p></p><br/><br/><h3>In March 2019, it was reported that Adelson was being treated for non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.</h3><img src="https://static6.businessinsider.com/image/5ccca9bd021b4c26c34dc568-400-300/in-march-2019-it-was-reported-that-adelson-was-being-treated-for-non-hodgkins-lymphoma.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Ron Reese, a spokesman for Adelson's company, told Fortune that <a href="http://fortune.com/2019/03/01/sheldon-adelson-cancer-treatment/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Adelson was experiencing side effects from his medication.</a></p><p>"These side effects have restricted his availability to travel or keep regular office hours," Reese told the magazine in a statement. "They have not, however, prevented him from fulfilling his duties as chairman and CEO."</p><p>But on January 7, four days before his death, the Wall Street Journal reported that Adelson was <a href="https://www.wsj.com/articles/sheldon-adelson-takes-medical-leave-from-casino-empire-for-cancer-treatment-11610053289">stepping back from his duties</a> at his company for cancer treatment.</p></p><br/><br/>
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