ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) – Here’s one way to look at the giant liquidation sale that will take place later this week at the former Sands Casino Hotel: It’s one last chance to take home a nostalgic piece of the place where Frank Sinatra once held court.
Here’s another: Falter in Atlantic City, and they’ll pick your bones clean.
Both will happen on Thursday when the contents of the famous gambling hall and its hotel rooms, kitchens and stages go on sale to the public. Once the stuff is gone, the Sands will be demolished to make way for a new billion-dollar casino.
‘When you pull these places apart, people are fascinated,’ said Kim Townsend, executive vice president of Pinnacle Atlantic City, the company that bought the Sands property. ‘Whenever things are hidden away behind walls or in private areas, it just increases the speculation.’
There will be hidden treasures aplenty, including everything from the Plaza Club — a swank 19th-floor hideout that became Sinatra’s private playground whenever he stayed at the Sands. Chandeliers ($4,250), a marble and wood bar, and leather chairs are among the furnishings from the club that are expected to go quickly.
Rocky Merrill, a maintenance worker for 25 of the Sands’ 26 years, did custom work for The Chairman of the Board during several of Ol’ Blue Eyes’ stints there.
‘He was really private,’ Merrill recalled. ‘We took a whole floor and I had to cut doors between each room so he could walk from one end of the floor to another where his people were, without having to go into the hallway.’
‘He asked for it, he got it,’ Merrill said.
All told, about $1.5 million worth of merchandise is being sold off, from $1 towels and linens to the giant red velvet curtain that rose and fell on acts at The Copa Room, which could fetch $5,000 to $10,000.
The sale is not an auction; each item is tagged with an assigned price, and buyers have to cough up an additional 10 percent ‘buyers’ premium.’ The sale will continue until everything is sold.
The Sands opened as the Brighton Hotel & Casino in August 1980. Within a year, it was sold and renamed the Sands. In the 1980s it became a hub for by-then aging Rat Packers and in the early ’90s was among the first Atlantic City casinos to offer poker.
But the sands of time were running out for the Sands by 2003 when The Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa opened, bringing with it restaurants from big-name chefs, pulsing nightclubs and upscale shopping — and no drop-off zones for buses.
The trend toward Las Vegas-style destination resorts moved away from the buffets and bus terminals for blue-haired old ladies that places like the Sands offered. Last September, mogul Carl Icahn, who owned the Sands for six years, sold it to Pinnacle Entertainment, which closed it down in November.
Before the building is imploded this fall, everything has to be cleared out. The gambling equipment has all been transferred to other Pinnacle casinos except for the chips, which will be destroyed in a few weeks.
The sale includes 200 television sets, priced as low as $89; the marble bar and four stools from the posh Hollywood Suite (just under $2,000); the room’s king-size canopy bed ($2,250) and its whirlpool bath with waterfall jets ($1,495).
Brass Champagne buckets go for $175, a light-up ceiling sign that reads ‘CRAPS’ sells for $95, and a high-backed dining room chair that seems more appropriate for a beach house than a glitzy casino is tagged at $65. Vinyl lounge chairs are $145 each.
Then there are thousands of pieces of kitchen and restaurant equipment, including plates, glasses, baking trays and serving racks. The drums from the Copa Room’s house band must go, along with hundreds of high-powered color stage lights.
Even the huge dressing room mirror into which Sinatra peered before each show, and the in-house speaker box through which an assistant called him to the stage will be sold.
So, too, will the fully functional window that Rosemary Clooney insisted be installed in her room as a condition of her performing there, and the steam room that Don Rickles demanded be built for him, Merrill said.
Even the huge gambling icons on the Sands’ facade, such as the giant logo, the ‘777’ slot machine panel, and yellow gambling chips are for sale. But bring your own construction crew to pry them loose.
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