October 27, 2011
By: Brenna Lemieux
The Las Vegas Mob Experience, which opened this spring in the Tropicana resort, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, including letters, jewelry, weapons and even furniture once owned by mobsters.
It seems that The Mob Experience has a number of financial hurdles before it. First, it lost what sources identify as its most popular exhibit, which allowed visitors to interact via audio-visual equipment with likenesses of famous mobsters. After failing to make payments on the machines that powered the exhibit, creditors repossessed them.
Without its biggest tourist draw, the museum’s daily attendance reportedly fell to about 140 visitors, a total that just barely allowed the museum to meet day-to-day expenses.
The second money problem for the museum came in the form of fraud allegations against its former developer, Jay Bloom. Sources note that Bloom was accused of using company money for personal expenses such as car payments, credit card payments, and the purchase of groceries.
Though Bloom has defended himself in court, the charges have apparently not been settled yet; the company’s bankruptcy filing could make them disappear entirely.
Finally, the Las Vegas Mob Experience may never be able to get back on its feet thanks to a competing mob museum currently under construction. The Mob Museum, National Museum of Organized Crime and Law Enforcement, funded by the city, is set to open in the old courthouse, where mob hearings were conducted in the 1950s.
The real question will be whether Sin City can support two museums with more or less the same theme.
Sources indicate that JVLV Holdings LLC has taken ownership of the Las Vegas Mob Experience in a deal that included the former forking over $2 million to cover some of the museum’s immediate debts.
At present, the museum’s manager has claimed that bankruptcy will allow him to make the museum profitable. He apparently plans to renegotiate the museum’s lease with Tropicana, negotiate debt with creditors, and bring back the exhibits that drew the most visitors through the museum’s doors.
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