Wynn to Close Gallery - Wednesday 26th of October 2005

Word around the Las Vegas art community is that Steve Wynn is closing the gallery at Wynn Las Vegas.

A source close to Wynn said this week that the resort owner is planning to shut the doors of the Wynn Collection.

Gallery Director Melissa Doumitt said Wednesday that "rumors are flying" regarding the gallery and its closing, but would not confirm any details.

Instead, Doumitt referred calls to Denise Randazzo, Wynn Resorts vice president of public relations, who said, "Theres no public announcement of the gallery closing."

When asked if there will be a formal announcement, Randazzo said, "We dont know. There has been some talk of possible changes ... We have not made any decisions yet."

Patrick Duffy, Las Vegas Art Museum board member and a prominent local collector with partner Wally Goodman, said he has heard the rumors.

"People are talking," Duffy said. "Its the conversation around town.

"It would be very sad for the art community. On the other hand, Mr. Wynn is such a great art supporter, so he could still support art somewhere in the community," Duffy said.

"He understands the merit of art in the community. (He and wife Elaine) are gracious people. Theyve supported the Las Vegas Art Museum."

The Wynn Collection features 16th- to 20th-century masterworks, including Pablo Picassos "Le Reve."

Wynn was the first to bring fine art to the Strip when he opened the Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art inside the Bellagio in 1998. The $300 million collection continued growing, and a $7.5 million expansion was added in 1999.

In 2000 Wynn sold Mirage Resorts to MGM Grand and took his personal collection with him to the Desert Inn, where a portion of it was displayed during renovations. It reappeared in The Wynn Collection inside Wynn Las Vegas.

More recently, Wynn acquired Johannes Vermeers 1670 painting "A Young Woman Seated at the Virginals." The piece was bought anonymously for $30 million at Sothebys London on July 7, but turned up in Wynns collection.

Shortly after, the Wynns were again listed on ARTnews magazines list of Top 10 collectors. The list is based on actively collected works over the previous year, and the couple have been on the list since 2001.

Wynn is known as a passionate art collector who is frequently buying and selling masterpieces. On Oct. 7, The New York Times reported his sale of Vincent van Goghs "Peasant Woman Against a Background of Wheat" (1890) and Paul Gauguins "Bathers," (1902) to another major collector, Steven Cohen.

Some sources are saying that Wynn is closing the gallery so that he can use the location as retail space. Randazzo said she had not heard that.

Either way, she said, "We will always have an art in the community involvement. Mr. and Mrs. Wynn are supportive of the arts."

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