Wynn Las Vegas Magazine by MODERN LUXURY

Wynn - 2011 - Issue 2 - Fall

Wynn Magazine - Las Vegas

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Page 23 of 123

STEVE WYNN R auction earlier this year Chinese vases acquired at A quartet of early-19th- century 22 WYNN oger Thomas was flipping through a newly arrived Christie's catalog one early summer morning when something caught his eye. "I usu- ally open these largely for inspiration, rather than serious consideration," he says, noting that auctions are often populated with antiques deemed too frail for public spaces in hotels. "You don't put a beautiful but fragile desk or a pair of exquisite but delicate chairs in an area trafficked by hundreds of people each day." But on this particular morning, Thomas noticed what he calls "an extraordinary opportunity." The catalog illustrated the offerings of The Exceptional Sale 2011, set for July 7 at Christie's London, and what had seized Thomas' attention was Lot 10, a quartet of vases from China's Jiaqing period (1796–1820). "They were large, dramatic and beautiful, and each was positioned on an exceptional gilded-bronze mount," he remem- bers. "I looked at them and was absolutely captivated." As executive vice president of design for Wynn Design & Development, Thomas has spent a healthy percentage of the past 30 years traveling the globe to unearth similar treasures from auc- tion houses or antiques shops, all to dress the fanciful resorts Steve Wynn has conjured up to change the face of Las Vegas and, more recently, Macau. Though on the occasional morning such as this, treasures also come calling at Thomas' door courtesy of an auction catalog. One lot behind the quartet of Chinese vases, for example, a pair of similar vases revealed themselves, though Thomas immediately discerned the quartet to be of superior quality and provenance: According to Christie's, they were reportedly once owned by Lady Elizabeth Montagu, the third Duchess of Buccleuch, who throughout the 18th and 19th centuries alleg- edly competed for important pieces with another avid art collector, King George IV, who amassed an extensive collection of the ormolu-mounted vases, which still reside today at Buckingham Palace. A few lots after the quartet, meanwhile, Thomas' interest was likewise piqued by a French tap- estry circa 1700–1720, depicting a Chinese emperor on a journey. "It was a tapestry I have loved ever since I saw [a version] at the Getty Museum in Los Angeles," Thomas says, adding that it was crafted by Beauvais, the legendary French house that wove tapestries sought after by France's nobility in the 17th and 18th centuries. Thomas walked the catalog over to Steve Wynn's office. "It's usu- ally the other way around," Thomas says. "Steve's a highly astute collector, so he very often is putting a catalog in my hands to look at something." But after three decades of working together, the symbi- otic relationship between Steve Wynn and Roger Thomas is such that, when Thomas points out an opportunity, Wynn pays attention. Sitting at his desk, Wynn examined the trio of choices, then looked up at Thomas. "You're absolutely right," Wynn said. "Buy them all." Thomas soon found himself on a plane to London and in meetings with a restorer to inspect the pieces of interest. "I didn't believe it was possible, but they were even more dramatic in person," he says of the quartet of vases, each of which stands 51 inches high. His gut reaction to the pair of vases and the tapestry was likewise justified, so on the night of July 7 at Christie's London, it was the vase quartet and the tapestry that ultimately found their way into the Wynn collection, with Thomas capturing win- ning bids on both as Steve Wynn stayed on the phone with him. The excitement over the quartet complete, Thomas told Wynn he didn't have to stay on the phone for the tapestry if he wasn't interested. But Wynn remained. "He is a seasoned hand at auc- tions, and he was having too much fun," Thomas says. Of course, there is a greater purpose to these purchases, one rooted in a philosophy that extends beyond finding lovely objects to suit chic spaces. Wynn and his inner circle of planners, devel- opers and designers, including Thomas, are deep in the process of designing his latest Macau resort, dubbed Wynn Cotai, with completion anticipated for 2015. As Wynn takes out a greater stake in the People's Republic of China, there is a decided focus on I LOOKED AT THEM AND WAS ABSOLUTELY CAPTIVATED." — ROGER THOMAS DRAMATIC AND BEAUTIFUL, AND EACH WAS POSITIONED ON AN EXCEPTIONAL GILDED-BRONZE MOUNT. "THEY WERE LARGE, PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF PR NEWSWIRE

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