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DJ megabucks war breaking out as contracts surpass $20 million?

2012 iHeartRadio: Night 2 Arrivals

Tom Donoghue/

Deadmau5 (Joel Zimmerman) and Kat Von D arrive at Night 2 of the 2012 iHeartRadio Music Festival at MGM Grand Garden Arena on Saturday, Sept. 22, 2012.

Updated Thursday, Dec. 20, 2012 | 10:43 p.m.


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Wicked Whispers & Racy Rumors! An apparent war is starting to rage over the arrival of new clubs on the Strip signing megadeals with star DJs at rival nightlife venues. That’s the inside word from very reliable and separate nightclub industry insiders with confirmation that Hakkasan, the monster rooftop dayclub and nightclub at MGM Grand, is leading the charge.

Owners there have, according to several reliable insider reports, signed newly engaged Deadmau5 to a staggering 2-year-deal worth $20 million. The DJ, long a favorite of everybody from Paris Hilton to Holly Madison, has been a regular at Wynn and Encore clubs, where he is set to spin New Year’s Eve.

Reportedly, his deal -- a wonderfully timed Christmas and pre-wedding gift to tattooed fiancee Kat Von D -- includes giant paychecks, a luxurious chauffeur-driven Maybach priced at as much as $1 million, a sprawling SkyLoft tower villa condo, restaurant signing privileges and other perks.

Another knowledgeable hotel insider told me that Deadmau5, real name Joel Zimmerman from Toronto, is rumored to just be part of a bigger, whopping $65 million to $75 million deal connected with three other global DJ superstars.

Deadmau5 is in demand worldwide and known for attracting tens of thousands of fans to his 4-D light and music concerts. He was part of the lineup of this year’s two-day iHeart Music Radio Festival at MGM Grand Garden Arena.

The salvos in the war are being fired because of the extraordinary dollars at stake among rival nightlife operations. Nightclub executives are desperate to move the axis of the nearly $1 billion industry away from powerhouses XS, Surrender, Tryst, Tao, Lavo and 1OAK at the Encore, Wynn, Venetian, Palazzo and Mirage, respectively.

They want to see Bagatelle and Hakkasan at the Tropicana and MGM Grand corner vault into the lead. Nearby, there’s the anticipated February or March arrival of the Ibiza-styled Cirque du Soleil and Light Group theatrically themed nightclub Light taking over Rum Jungle’s space at Mandalay Bay. The Delano hotel from Miami set to revamp The Hotel at Mandalay Bay has promised that another huge pool nightclub will open alongside Mandalay convention space.

Even chef Wolfgang Puck has given the go-ahead for his Italian restaurant Lupo opposite Light to be transformed to welcome it, and that redesign will be completed in time for New Year’s.

However, center Strip property chiefs aren’t giving up without a fight. Although Tao Group’s Marquee at the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas commands that area as another Top Three U.S. revenue-producing venture, they face Victor Drai’s new boutique nightclub hotel that Caesars Entertainment plans at Bill’s Gamblin’ Hall & Saloon.

“Victor is determined to become the king of Las Vegas nightlife all over again. He reigned with Drai’s After Hours for years and then opened XS and Tryst with Steve Wynn. When he left there with a huge payday, he was determined to wait out his noncompete time and then return with the biggest and best all over again,” said one confidante.

“He’s already getting his star DJs lined up in the greenhouse just all biding their time until full bloom.”

Meantime, there’s definite word that MGM wants in on the center Strip nightlife action. “It’s not fully clear what they will eventually sign off on, but they are anxious to own and operate the biggest nightlife venue to ever hit Las Vegas,” one of my very reliable sources told me.

“They’ve even looked at the strong possibility of converting what might be left of the empty Harmon Hotel space for that purpose. They’ve also looked at space in Vdara and Veer.

“It may sound hard to believe. It may sound incredible. But the MGM executives really believe that they could own the nightclub industry with the biggest club in the world right on the Strip where the Harmon land and promenade between the Vdara and the Veer is located.

“The real interesting thing in all of this is the Steve Wynn factor. He doesn’t like to lose. He won’t lose, and he’ll spend whatever it takes to stay at the top. You haven’t heard from him yet, but you sure will. This is about to be the most expensive battle ever fought in Las Vegas!”

And also on the decks: Vanity at the Hard Rock Hotel is reportedly closing New Year’s Eve after a three-year run, and the staff have been notified. That leaves Body English as the only nightclub venue at the off-Strip property. And plans move forward to relocate Drai’s After Hours to Bally’s for at least one year during the transformation of Bill’s Gamblin’ Hall & Saloon at center Strip.

Vegas DeLuxe will continue watching the megabucks developments of the new DJ club wars as they really explode wide open with the New Year right around the corner.

Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.

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