Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel is best known as the mobster who helped develop the Las Vegas Strip by completing the Flamingo Hotel and Casino in 1946. Less than six months later, a still unknown gunman shot and killed Siegel as he sat on the couch inside the Beverly Hills, California, mansion he shared with his girlfriend. That mansion is now up for sale.
Priced at $16,995,000 the mansion at 810 North Lindon in Beverly Hills is listed as a seven-bedroom, seven-bathroom, 7,092-square-foot home built in 1928 in the prestigious 90210 zip code.
The listing describes a Spanish Colonial home with a “grand formal 2-story entry highlighted by hand-painted tiles, ornate ironwork, numerous archways, and rotunda accented with long vertical stained-glass windows fitted over a curved staircase.” The home sits on half an acre of land and includes a guesthouse.
A mob hit?
Siegel was in the home where he lived with girlfriend Virginia Hill on June 20, 1947, when he was shot in the head with a .30 caliber M1 carbine rifle. He was sitting in the living room with his associate Allen Smiley when the fatal shot cracked through the window. Investigators found that at least nine shots were fired, hitting Siegel several times. No one has ever been accused of the murder, but rumors of a mob hit have been around since that fateful night.
Before he was gunned down at the mansion, Siegel spent millions of mafia dollars on a plush resort in the Nevada desert that would be called the Flamingo.
Contrary to popular belief — and Hollywood — the Flamingo was not Siegel’s idea, but he was integral to the early development of Las Vegas as we know it today. And new documents have surfaced showing in writing who was behind the luxurious resort — which initially opened on Dec. 26, 1946 — and why few people have heard of him.
Siegel had movie star looks and wanted respect for something other than his reputation as a founding member of Murder Inc., an organized crime group that operated from 1929 to 1941 that acted as the enforcement arm of the Italian-American Mafia, Jewish Mob, and other closely connected organized crime groups in New York City and elsewhere.
His chance came when he was put in charge of the mob’s investment in what would become the Flamingo hotel, a project actually started by Billy Wilkerson, who was best known for creating The Hollywood Reporter in 1930.
Wilkerson became well known in Hollywood as a gossip writer and gambler, but he also had a grand idea. He wanted to build a resort in the desert to rival the grand hotel casinos of Europe.
Wilkerson took his money from Hollywood and began building what would become the Flamingo in Las Vegas. But it didn’t take long before his gamble in the desert went bust and he went looking for investors. He found one with the mafia and Siegel.
At the time, Siegel was an investor in The Northern Club and the El Cortez hotel and casino in downtown Las Vegas. While his mob money was being used to grow Las Vegas casino hotels, he controlled the race wires, something he had also done for the mob while in Southern California.
But one year after he and several others invested in the El Cortez, they sold it.
“They made about $160,000 on it,” according to Geoff Schumacher, Vice President of Exhibits and Programs at The Mob Museum in Las Vegas. “They took that money and plowed it into the Flamingo along with taking some of the trained staff from the El Cortez and bringing them over to the Flamingo. So the El Cortez was sort of the precursor to the Flamingo in terms of the mob’s involvement with Las Vegas.”
After Siegel’s investment into the Flamingo project, he decided he would not stay a silent partner.
“Siegel really took a liking to this project, so much so that he wanted to sort of go legit,” Schumacher told 8 News Now in January 2021. “He wanted to finally put his stamp on something other than, you know, killing people, or whatever he had done in the past.
“He and Wilkerson had their visions for the Flamingo diverging. And Wilkerson had a vision for a resort that would be about $1.2 million, a lot of money at the time but still relatively modest compared with what Siegel wanted, which was to spend a lot more money to make it a much more opulent place,” Schumacher said then. “He always wanted to add things and do things differently and the conflicts reached the point where Siegel basically threatened Wilkerson and said you’re out, we don’t want you here anymore. And if you don’t leave, you know, something bad might happen to you. So Wilkerson takes off for Paris and literally is there for a good chunk of the time that the Flamingo is being completed. Meanwhile, Siegel has taken over completely. He ends up spending $6 million on this project.”
After Siegel pushed Wilkerson out of the project he poured mob money into it, trying to make the Flamingo the finest hotel and casino in the world. Hill, a Hollywood actress who spent Siegel’s money on luxurious items, also helped with the design.
But Siegel and Hill’s spending spree did not gain any favors with the bosses back East. The Flamingo’s opening did not go as planned. Only the casino — not the entire resort — was complete for the grand opening on Dec. 26, 1946.
In fact, the casino closed in January 1947 until construction of the rest of the resort was finished a few months later. The Flamingo re-opened in March, but its early success was not enough to save Siegel from the mob’s ire.
In June of that year, while relaxing in the Beverly Hills house he shared with Hill, who was away at the time, Siegel was shot to death in the home that’s now for sale for almost $17 million.
Despite the home’s storied past, the listing calls it “ideal for raising a family.”