Birthday: August 4, 1933
Died At Age: 87
Sun Sign: Leo
Also Known As: Sheldon Gary Adelson
Born Country: United States
Born in: Dorchester, Boston, Massachusetts, United States
Famous as: Chief Executive Officer of Las Vegas Sands
Spouse/Ex-: Miriam Adelson (m. 1991), Sandra Adelson (m. ?–1988)
father: Arthur Adelson
mother: Sarah (née Tonkin)
siblings: Gloria Rita Adelson Field, Leonard Adelson
children: Gary Adelson, Mitchell Adelson, Shelley Adelson
Died on: January 11, 2021
place of death: Malibu, California, U.S.
Cause of Death: Cancer
U.S. State: Massachusetts
education: Roxbury Memorial High School, The City College of New York
Sheldon Adelson was an American business magnate and billionaire, who made his fortune in the casino and resort business. He ventured into business at the age of 12. By the time he was in his 30s, he had made millions and lost it twice. In the 1970s, he turned his fortune around after co-founding the 'Interface Group,' which launched COMDEX, a highly successful computer distributors’ exhibition. In the late 1980s, he ventured into the casinos and resorts business by establishing the Las Vegas Sands. He soon established himself as a successful serial entrepreneur. His business went international with casinos and resorts in Macau, China, and Marina Bay, Singapore. Later, he ventured into the media business: first in Israel and then in the U.S. He was a prominent supporter of the Republican Party and the 45th US President, Donald Trump. He was featured multiple times on the Forbes' list of the world's wealthiest people.
Childhood & Early Life
Sheldon Gary Adelson was born on August 4, 1933, in Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.
His mother, Sarah (nee Tonkin), had immigrated to the U.S. from the United Kingdom and managed a knitting shop initially. His father, Arthur, worked as a taxi driver. He was of Lithuanian Jewish and Ukrainian Jewish ancestry.
At the age of 12, Sheldon Adelson loaned $200 from his uncle and bought a license to sell newspapers in Boston. That was his first business venture.
In 1948, when he was 16 years old, he borrowed $10,000 to start a candy-vending-machine company.
He attended City College in New York City, New York, U.S., but dropped out later. He then went to trade school. Later, he had an unsuccessful stint as a court reporter. He had also enlisted himself in the army.
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Entrepreneurial Career Highlights
After his stint in the army, Sheldon Adelson founded a company that dealt in toiletry kits.
Later, he launched a company De-Ice-It, which sold a chemical that assisted in clearing frozen windshields.
In the 1960s, he ventured into tourism and founded an enterprise that organized chartered tours.
He made millions from his ventures, and by the late 1960s, he had made and unmade his fortune twice.
In the early 1970s, he established the Interface Group, partnering with other entrepreneurs.
Toward the end of the 1970s, Interface introduced a computer-industry trade show called COMDEX in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S. The event became an annual feature in Las Vegas's calendar and was quite popular with the stalwarts of the computer industry. The exhibition changed Adelson's fortunes forever.
By the 1980s, COMDEX was being organized in other cities of the U.S. and in international locations, too. In the late 1980s, the show was opened to the general public.
Sheldon Adelson and his partners founded Las Vegas Sands, an American casino and resort company, in 1988. They also acquired the 'Sands Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, the same year.
The following year, he and his partners, built what was the U.S.' only privately owned and managed convention center back then. It is also known as one of the largest convention centers in the country.
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Inspired by Venice, Italy, where he honeymooned with his second wife in 1991, he decided to build a mega-resort hotel by replacing the Sands Hotel.
In 1995, he sold the Interface Group, along with COMDEX to SoftBank Corporation, now known as the SoftBank Group Corp.
He brought down the Sands Hotel and constructed The Venetian, a Venice-themed luxury hotel and casino resort, spending $1.5 billion. The hotel was opened in May 1999.
The Venezia Tower was added to The Venetian in 2003. The following year, the construction of the luxury hotel and casino resort The Palazzo at The Venetian began. It was opened 3 years later.
In 2004, Sheldon Adelson expanded his casino and resort business outside the U.S. by opening Sands Macao in Macau (or Macao), a region under special administration of China.
In 2006, Adelson's company was granted a license by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board to build a casino resort in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, U.S.
He forayed into media in 2006, by co-founding the Hebrew newspaper Israeli, published by Israeli News Ltd, with its headquarters in Tel Aviv, Israel. However, the following year, he withdrew from the partnership due to differences. He then launched the newspaper Israel Hayom.
The Venetian Macao Resort Hotel was built on Cotai, in August 2007.
After having earned the license to build a casino resort in Marina Bay, Singapore, he opened the Marina Bay Sands in 2010.
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In December 2015, he discreetly acquired the newspaper Las Vegas Review-Journal.
At the time of his death in January 2021, his net worth was over $30 billion.
Many intermediaries, including Richard Suen, who helped Sheldon Adelson set up the casino and resort business in Macau, had sued him for defaulting on his payments.
The Israeli media had accused him of using his political connections to acquire a license to operate casinos in Las Vegas. However, the claimants later apologized.
After his company came under investigation by federal agencies for alleged violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act in February 2013, it admitted to having bribed Chinese officials.
His spokesman clarified that his comment about dropping an atomic bomb on a desert in Iran in 2013 was a hyperbole and not meant literally.
His foray into the media industry, especially his 2015 acquisition of the Las Vegas Review-Journal, was viewed as his attempt to advance his political and business objectives.
In 2015, his company agreed to pay a penalty of $9 million to the Securities and Exchange Commission, an independent agency of the United States federal government, which is responsible for proposing and enforcing securities laws and regulating the securities industry.
His name was featured in the Paradise Papers which, in 2017, began releasing a series of leaked electronic documents that contained details of offshore investments of high-profile personalities.
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Until 1996, Sheldon Adelson was a supporter of the Democratic Party. He later switched to the Republican Party.
He was a staunch supporter of the 45th US President, Donald Trump, and was one of the largest donors to the Trump campaign.
It is reported that he donated $200 million to the Republican Party and Trump's election bid for 2020.
In 2006, Sheldon Adelson and his wife donated $25 million each to The Adelson Educational Campus in Las Vegas, and Yad Vashem: The World Holocaust Remembrance Center on Mount Herzl, Jerusalem, Israel.
The following year, he and his wife established the not-for-profit organization The Adelson Family Foundation. Through this organization, he has made donations amounting to $140 million to Birthright Israel, a non-profit educational service organization.
He is the sponsor of the private Dr. Miriam and Sheldon G. Adelson Medical Research Foundation based in Boston.
On March 25, 2008, Sheldon Adelson and his wife were honored with the Woodrow Wilson Award for Corporate Citizenship by the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars of the Smithsonian Institution.
His contribution toward promoting free-market trade practices in Nevada earned him the Chairman's Award from the Nevada Policy Research Institute.
Personal Life & Family
Sheldon Adelson was married to his first wife, Sandra, until their divorce in 1988. They adopted three children: Mitchell, Gary, and Shelley.
In 1989, he met Dr. Miriam Farbstein Ochshorn on a blind date. They married 2 years later. Miriam was formerly married to Dr. Ariel Ochshorn, with whom she had two daughters.
Adelson was diagnosed with peripheral neuropathy in 2001, which curtailed his ability to stand and walk.
On February 28, 2019, it was made public that he was being treated for non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, a type of blood cancer.
On January 11, 2021, Sheldon Adelson died at his home in Malibu, California. He was 87.