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The Mirage Hotel's long history comes to a close on July 17, 2024


The Mirage Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas has hosted A-list celebrities and high-stakes gambling.

But the elegant hotel is also linked to a brutal gambling murder, the mauling of magician Roy Horn by a white Bengal tiger, rage-induced vandalism by Michael Jackson, and the poolside robbery of actress Sarah Hyland’s then-boyfriend Matt Prokop.

The Mirage’s thirty-five-year history of grandeur, glamor, and occasional villainy will come to an end on July 17, 2024, when the hotel closes its doors.

Before the Mirage fades like a desert vision, to be reimagined as a Hard Rock resort, let’s revisit four of the hotel’s most notorious incidents.

A wealthy poker player was on a hot streak when he was lured away and murdered (photo by Doug Kari)

A Winning Poker Player Draws a Bad Hand

In December 1997, Don Idiens, a wealthy real estate developer from Vancouver, was on a hot streak at one of the Mirage’s poker tables.

After being paged, Idiens walked away from the table, saying he’d return soon.

Early the next morning, a maid at the nearby Imperial Palace found his battered body inside a stairwell, clad in underwear and bearing defensive injuries on the arms and hands.

That same morning, Greg Chao, a poker player who’d been on a losing streak, showed up at the Mirage and started throwing down cash.

Police discovered that Chao, who was in debt to loan sharks, knew Idiens from high-stakes poker games in Vancouver.

Video and DNA evidence helped police piece together the crime: Chao lured Idiens to a room in the Imperial Palace, beat him to death, grabbed his money, and dumped his body.

Ten years later, after a jury in Las Vegas convicted Chao of murder, the judge sentenced him to life in prison.

Magician Roy Horn (l) was mauled onstage by a white Bengal tiger (photo by Carol M. Highsmith)

A White Tiger Mauls Roy Horn

Perhaps the most notorious incident in the Mirage’s history happened in October 2003, when a white Bengal tiger attacked magician Roy Horn.

Horn was part of the celebrated duo Siegfried and Roy. Their illusions using white tigers, lions, horses, and even an elephant, astonished thousands of viewers.

The duo also landed an astonishing $58 million contract with Steve Wynn, who developed and owned the Mirage before selling it to MGM.

But during a performance on Roy Horn’s fifty-ninth birthday, a white tiger named Montecore lunged at him onstage, grabbed him by the neck, and dragged him away.

The loss of blood nearly killed Horn. The attack caused him to suffer two strokes and left him partially paralyzed.

Except for a single televised comeback show in 2009, Siegfried & Roy never again performed their legendary magic act.

Michael Jackson was accused of sexually abusing Wade Robson (photo courtesy of Sundance Institute)

The King of Pop Throws a Tantrum

In November 2003, police in Santa Barbara raided Michael Jackson’s Neverland estate, searching for evidence related to an investigation into alleged child sex crimes committed by the superstar.

When the raid went down, Jackson and his entourage were ensconced in suites at the Mirage.

Dieter Wiesner, who at the time was Jackson’s manager, later claimed that after Jackson got a phone call about the raid, he began throwing furniture around the room.

The Mirror, a British tabloid, quoted Wiesner as saying: “He couldn’t talk and then he started to cry. Michael destroyed some stuff in the suite. He was out of control.”

Jackson was never prosecuted for the alleged child sex crimes, but he agreed to pay $23 million in a civil settlement.

This box man at the Mirage was hired when the hotel opened and will be there on its last day (photo by Doug Kari)

Sarah Hyland’s Boyfriend Gets Robbed by the Pool

In July 2012, actress Sarah Hyland from the TV show Modern Family was staying at the Mirage with her then-boyfriend, actor Matt Prokop.

While Prokop was lounging at the pool, a thief stole $1,200 in cash from his wallet.

Prokop and Hyland blamed hotel security for not protecting them and tracking down the thief.

“You’d think a ‘four diamond award winning resort’ such as @TheMirageLV has security cameras to catch thieves,” wrote Hyland in a post on Twitter.

Prokop also criticized the hotel. “Wow the #mirage in Vegas sucks,” he tweeted. “Security team couldn’t do anything.”

Within days, the Mirage reimbursed Prokop, and the couple made nice in their comments to the press.

But the once-happy couple ended as a case of alleged partner abuse, when in September 2014, Hyland obtained a restraining order, saying that Prokop choked and threatened her.

In May 2024, Prokop was arrested in Victoria, Texas, on charges of assaulting another girlfriend. Needless to say, he won’t be at the Mirage on July 17th to celebrate the hotel’s closing.

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