|By Jennifer Robinson, Las Vegas
Review-JournalMcClatchy-Tribune Business News
Nov. 16, 2006 - -So you've been looking for the perfect 25-foot fertility god to round out the living room.
Well, the Stardust can help you out.
Asset liquidator Great American Group will auction off thousands of items at the recently shuttered Strip hotel from Friday through Tuesday.
In addition to that massive tribal statue, buyers can bid on four-foot brass lanterns, retro Coca-Cola posters, neon bar signs, gift-shop trinkets, vintage entertainment photos and plastic palm trees, among nearly 50,000 other items.
The sale will open Friday morning at 11 with the auction of the last craps table that saw action at the Stardust. The table comes complete with dealer signatures.
Also on the block Friday: Nearly 60 plasma televisions from the Stardust's sports book, Stardust-branded playing cards and assorted stereo equipment.
And though the beloved, twinkling Stardust sign on the Strip isn't up for grabs -- it's destined for the Neon Museum -- people can bid on a 12-foot replica on Sunday.
Monday and Tuesday will feature hospitality-industry products such as nightclub booths, housekeeping carts and ice machines.
Auction officials said prices for auction items could begin in the single-dollar digits. The sky's the limit on sale prices at the higher end, though. Mark Weitz, president of Great American's wholesale and industrial division, said some of the effects inside a well-known property such as the Stardust could command top dollar.
"There's a history here, and the property also involves the metamorphosis that's taking place in Las Vegas," Weitz said. "The Stardust is one of the original highlight properties in Las Vegas. It has a historic showroom where a lot of celebrities got their start, and only days ago, it was a vibrant, operating entity. It's a wonderful story with local and regional appeal, and we also think there will be international interest."
Weitz said the personal connections customers have to the Stardust make it difficult to estimate a final sales tally for all the available goods.
The public will have an opportunity to preview auction items from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. today. About 1,000 people caught a sneak peek of auction items through Wednesday.
Nostalgia brought Las Vegan Sally Hess to the public preview on Wednesday.
Hess, a former wardrobe lady for the Stardust's "Lido de Paris" show, wasn't at the hotel to buy.
"I just want to remember back then," said Hess, standing over boxes of tiaras, jeweled belts and g-strings from the show. "This brings back a lot of memories. I loved the 'Lido.' All the people who were involved in it knew they were in something special."
As Hess sifted through the outfits, she recalled the women behind the names written on the labels. One piece of clothing bore the name of a showgirl who now handles wardrobe functions for the Folies Bergere, she said.
"I think it's sad. I don't know why they have to keep blowing things up," Hess said.
Robert Brandy, a Las Vegas property manager, came to the Stardust out of curiosity.
Brandy, who said he'd patronized the Stardust perhaps two or three times, wasn't set on buying any items before he scanned the offerings. After he saw the goods up for sale, however, he said he'd likely return for the auction. He's especially interested in buying a blackjack table so he and his friends can play at home. A Steinway tucked deep inside the hotel also piqued Brandy's interest.
Brandy said the piano's top was removed, so its value was diminished.
"But it would be fun to have just for the hell of it," he said.
Las Vegas room-service attendant Noel Riveros wasn't hunting for any specific items as he walked past tables laden with framed posters.
"I'm just trying to see if I can find a piece of history," he said.
The history lessons aren't confined to the auction pavilion.
Today, the general public has access to virtually the entire hotel -- from the sprawling, two-floor Presidential Suite that housed former Stardust operator Frank "Lefty" Rosenthal to the high-roller suites off-limits to all but the biggest spenders.
And everything -- from giant mirrors and bar stools on down to ash trays and faux houseplants -- has to go.
Only the slot machines, which are headed for other casinos, and the chips, which were shredded after the Stardust closed on Nov. 1, aren't for sale.
Weitz said he expects between 2,000 and 3,000 consumers to chase auction offerings. The sale will be simulcast on the Web, and participants buying via the Internet will be able to bid live against buyers on-site at the Stardust.
He said wistful former guests, antique dealers and private collectors would be key contingents among the bidders.
"There's just so much history here," Weitz said. "There will be surprising items no one would imagine were here -- just myriad items with so many stories behind them."
STARDUST AUCTION BY THE NUMBERS: Among the 50,000 individual items and 6,000 lots of goods for sale at the Stardust's auction are a few unusual standouts:
--287 lots of palm trees
--225 vacuum cleaners
--75 roll-away bed frames
--57 sports book televisions
--45 oak trees
--44 pieces of showgirl costumes
--27 Stardust robes
For additional information on the auction or to download a catalog, visit www.greatamerican.com.
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Copyright (c) 2006, Las Vegas Review-Journal
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