Las Vegas Sun

January 24, 2018

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Strip Scribbles: Orange diamond sells for $35.5M; Jason Statham; white truffle at Ferraro’s


Tom Donoghue/

2013 Miss USA Pageant contestants dine at Buca di Beppo on Flamingo on Wednesday, June 5, 2013. Planet Hollywood head honcho Robert Earl, Miss Nevada USA 2013 Chelsea Caswell and actor Jason Statham are pictured here.

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The $35.5 million orange diamond.

The largest, vivid-orange diamond in the world ever to be bid upon at auction shattered a world record, selling for more than $35.5 million Tuesday night at Christie’s in Geneva, Switzerland. The 14.82-carat diamond also shattered its high estimate of $21 million. At $2,398,151 per carat, it also set a world-record price per carat for any colored diamond sold at auction.

A Christie’s auctioneer said: “The 14.82-carat orange diamond is one rare gem, which will perhaps only be seen once in a lifetime. It is believed to be easily the world’s largest orange diamond, approximately three times larger than two other known large orange diamonds: The 5.54-carat ‘Pumpkin Diamond’ and a 4.19-carat fancy vivid-orange diamond sold.”

As I reported Monday, Las Vegas jeweler Michael E. Minden has created a manmade version of the rare gemstone and mounted it in a necklace that is now on display in his Fashion Show mall location. It will remain there through Nov. 30 for people who want to try on the replica and will then be sold at auction, with proceeds going to Keep Memory Alive, the charitable arm that supports the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health.

ACTION-STAR SWAP: I’ve always wondered if British action star and Las Vegas regular Jason Statham could take over fellow Brit Daniel Craig’s role as 007 James Bond. He’s just come close because Jason will replace Daniel in the “Layer Cake” sequel “Viva La Madness.”

Jason (“The Transporter,” “Snatch”) has won the lead role in the film, which follows up the 2004 book-turned-movie by J.J. Connolly. Connolly said it’s the story of a retiree who wants the simple beach life but gets caught up in drug deals and cartels, money-laundering and high-tech electronic fraud.

It sounds like perfect casting for Jason, who will be here next Wednesday for the premiere of his newest film “Homefront” with Winona Ryder, Kate Bosworth and James Franco. Sylvester Stallone, who wrote the screenplay, also is expected at the Planet Hollywood world premiere. Jason and Sly are flying in from filming “The Expendables 3” in Budapest, Hungary, and I’m reliably told that “3,” too, will get a Planet Hollywood premiere next year.

BAJA RACES: Our hometown ace drivers are in final preparation today for the grueling Baja 1000 race. In advance of the start this weekend in Ensenada of the more than 900-mile rugged, off-track desert course, B.J. “Ballistic’” Baldwin demonstrated his skills behind the wheel of the 850-hp Trophy truck he’ll race.

He produced a great YouTube video of practice in the Mojave Desert that shows off his impressive driving. B.J. won the race in his Chevy TT in 2012 with a nonstop drive time of just over 20 hours. You can follow the live race coverage starting Friday morning at

B.J. Baldwin

‘BAGGAGE BATTLES’: Auction experts have filmed a Las Vegas episode of the Travel Channel hit “Baggage Battles.” In the show airing next Tuesday, the auction specialists take a gamble in hopes of hitting the jackpot at an estate and consignment auction. “Baggage Battles” gives viewers a glimpse into the profitable business of bidding, buying and reselling unclaimed items from around the world, including airport, estate, freight, shipping, police and seizure auctions.

In Season 3, the stakes are higher for auction experts Billy “The Dealer” Leroy, Mark “The Hustler” Meyer and Laurence and Sally Martin, aka “The Wild Cards,” who still don’t know if it’s junk or jackpot until they win the bid and open the suitcase or container. But in Las Vegas, two of them made an unholy alliance to grab a very big-name item.

WORLD PREMIERE: Venetian and Palazzo President John Caparella flew to Beijing for the ceremonial contract signing to bring the first-ever Chinese-produced show “Panda” to take up a Las Vegas residency. Beijing Mayor Wang Anshun hosted the director of the show, An Zhao, and John at the China International Exhibition Center.

Produced by a team whose credits include the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, “Panda” will make its world premiere at the Palazzo on Dec. 16. The visually stunning show promises to dazzle the senses by mixing high-flying acrobatics, kung-fu mastery, music and dance and transporting audiences to a realm of Far Eastern folklore.

TASTY TRUFFLE: A large and rare white Italian truffle was flown in Tuesday from Tuscany to the chefs at Ferraro’s Italian Restaurant & Wine Bar opposite the Hard Rock Hotel. Weighing in at nearly two pounds, it’s the largest known truffle of its kind to land in Las Vegas. Executive chef Mimmo Ferraro said: “There are only two to three truffles of this size per season in the world, and we have one of them!”

It will be used for regular dining service atop signature dishes. Italian white truffles are hailed worldwide as the most exquisite of all truffles. Their season runs from late October to late December. They grow in the wild beneath mature oak, beech and hazelnut trees, from which they draw carbohydrates while growing underground. More truffles will be flown in for Ferraro’s Perfect Match five-course dinner on Dec. 15 of Truffles and Nebbiolo wines.

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A volunteer, Nathan Minor of Chippendales at the Rio and the Quad headliner Jeff Civillico help landscape a North Las Vegas community park.

NEW HOMES: Congratulations to nearly 300 Caesars Entertainment HERO employee volunteers who turned out for Rebuilding Together Southern Nevada honoring Veterans Day by restoring a veteran’s residence, the surrounding neighborhood and a community park. The Quad headliner Jeff Civillico joined with Chippendales at the Rio star Nathan Minor to help with modifications and repairs made to three homes.

TIME-LAPSE VIDEO: Downtown’s historic Huntridge Theater looks as good as new again thanks to supporters who made donations to protect and restore the unique art house. It was built in 1944 but closed in 2004. Now a decade later, it’s been brought back to life to become a supper club and live-music venue thanks to 500 volunteers and 600 gallons of paint. Here’s a start-to-finish time-lapse video of the finished building.

Huntridge Theater

REVIV LAUNCH: Sexy spokesmodel and boxing color commentator Jessa Hinton officially launches Reviv spa at MGM Grand tonight. Reviv offers anti-hangover and energy-booster IV treatments and shots to “Get Back Your Life” after too much and too many Las Vegas party nights.


MGM head honcho Jim Murren and his wife Heather host the grand opening of Tourbillon at Crystals in Aria as a benefit for Guy Laliberte’s water charity One Drop.

Zoe performs at the Joint in the Hard Rock Hotel.

Porter Robinson is at Surrender in Steve Wynn’s Encore.

Mike Attack is at Lavo in Palazzo.

Alesso is at Light in Mandalay Bay.

Puppeteers of the century-old Salzburg Marionette Theater give a behind-the-scenes look as they load into Smith Center for six shows.


Superstar Celine Dion will be inducted into the Gaming Hall of Fame, showman Jeff Beacher reveals secrets of his new Madhouse club opening for the New Year at MGM Grand, and we’ll preview the Rock and Roll Marathon that shuts down the Strip with a nighttime run.

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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