An Artistic Turning Point
At the time of its construction in 1996, the Bellagio was the most expensive hotel in the world. Clocking in at $1.1 billion dollars, Wynn’s masterpiece of a resort illuminated the strip and exuded pure elegance. He aimed to provide Bellagio guests with a first-class experience that was a stark contrast to the vapid, seedy ambiance of Vegas he recalled as a child. This experience would be luxurious, classy, and cultured, with boundless high-end boutiques, extravagant entertainment options, and awe-inspiring artwork. Wynn believed that art would permanently alter the legacy of Las Vegas.
The Bellagio, in and of itself, was a work of art. It became known for offering sensational entertainment like the Fountains of Bellagio. This mystifying water show takes place daily in front of the hotel and is open to the public, not just guests. Visitors indulge in luxe fashion from the world’s most iconic brands, dine at five-star restaurants, and play for high stakes. The greatest high-end experience the Bellagio had to offer, however, was (and still is) its art gallery.
The Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art marked the first time Wynn gave explicit attention to his love of sophisticated art. While art had always been a focus point for him in crafting the intended guest experience in his resorts, this gallery displayed Wynn’s personal collection of art produced by some of the most notable artists in contemporary and modern art. A painting or sculpture spoke volumes, projecting messages that impacted the mind and soul of those who viewed it. Wynn wanted to make this experience accessible for everyone, not just those who could afford to personally own fine art. This is why the elegance of the gallery space was at the heart of Bellagio’s concept. Wynn spent hundreds of millions of dollars to bring the enchantment of Renoir and Monet, the delicacy of Degas, and inspiring vibrancy of Warhol to the Bellagio experience.
In the early 2000s, Wynn reinvented himself yet again with the opening of the Wynn Las Vegas and Encore Las Vegas. After selling Mirage resorts to MGM in 2000, he saw this as an opportunity to infuse his love of art into the design of these new ventures.
A lover of Picasso, Wynn initially planned on naming his Wynn Las Vegas resort “Le Rêve” (French for “the dream”) after the painter’s notable piece that Wynn owned. Wynn amassed a curated collection of fine art just for the hotel, including a $23.5 million dollar Renoir titled “In The Roses.” He later placed Jeff Koons’ striking sculpture, “Tulips,” at the rotunda where the Wynn and Encore resorts meet. The stainless steel creation, depicting exuberant multicolored balloon tulips delicately wrapped around one another in a bouquet, serves as a sought-out attraction for the resort.
Wynn has masterfully used art, in its many forms, as a means of attracting and enticing guests throughout his career, and the Las Vegas Strip is his greatest exhibit. The crown jewel of this exhibit was the Bellagio.