Data shows that Steve Wynn's employees don't like him very much

1 year ago by Jeremy Bloom in News

Yes, Vegas is known as Sin City. And yes, Steve Wynn has been, on and off, the King of Sin City. I suppose it shouldn't come as a shock that the man who trashed one of Picasso's most beautiful and serene paintings (by ramming his elbow through it) took any more care with the thoughts and feelings of his female employees, as recounted in a spectacular, deeply-researched article in the Wall Street Journal today.

But here at Thinknum, one of the datasets we track is Glassdoor ratings, which allows us to look back in realtime and see the data trail of Steve Wynn's business, and his personal evaluation.

No surprise, it's been on a steady downward trend that today culminated in this amazing headline:

Dozens of People Recount Pattern of Sexual Misconduct by Las Vegas Mogul Steve Wynn

LAS VEGAS—Not long after the billionaire casino mogul Steve Wynn opened his flagship Wynn Las Vegas in 2005, a manicurist who worked there arrived at the on-site salon visibly distressed following an appointment in Mr. Wynn’s office.

Sobbing, she told a colleague Mr. Wynn had forced her to have sex, and she repeated that to others later.

She reported this to HR, was castigated for doing so, and left the company shortly thereafter.

Wynn denies everything, as of course he would, but he also paid. The manicurist settled for $7.5 million.

And as is so often the case, once one person speaks up, the floodgates open: The Journal spoke to dozens of Wynn's former employees, who described a history of sexual intimidation and abuse that stretched back decades.

Other highlights:

  • Massage therapists forced to perform sex acts for $1000 tips
  • Employees would put fake appointments on the books so they would be "busy" when he showed up
  • Other employees would hide when they heard he was on the way
  • Jorgen Nielsen, who held the role of "artistic director" at the salon, told the Journal they had reported Wynn's abusive behavior to management, but “nobody was there to help us.”

"The idea that I ever assaulted any woman is preposterous," Wynn told The Journal. He blamed his ex-wife for peddling rumors. A company statement added:

"It is clear that Mr. Wynn's ex-wife has sought to use a negative public relations campaign to achieve what she has been unable to do in the courtroom: tarnish the reputation of Mr. Wynn in an attempt to pressure a revised divorce settlement from him." 

(The former Mrs Wynn is, according to Bloomberg, merely "seeking to gain control of her 9 percent stake in the casino giant". Wynn shoved her off the company board in 2015 and has exercised legal proxy voting rights to her shares, worth an estimated billion dollars... although 9 percent less than this morning, as the company's shares tumbled when the Journal article hit.)

Here are a few tidbits from the Wynn Resorts employee evaluations from Glassdoor:

  • "It is vile, mean spirited and overly dramatic workplace."
  • "Temper tantrums, berating employees, harassment of all kinds, comes from the top on down."
  • "Steve Wynn is a perfectionist, and I heard of people getting fired on the spot."
  • "I highly recommend working swing shift or graves because at night executives aren't around and management is usually more laid back and knows how to better prioritize actual problems."

Steve Winn and Donald Trump

Wynn is also the finance chair of the Repubican National Committee, a top fundraiser and a good friend of Donald Trump.

Bloomberg noted:

The company didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. Neither did the Republican National Committee, which urged the Democratic National Committee last year to return campaign donations from movie mogul Harvey Weinstein when he was accused of sexual assault.

“If the DNC truly stands up for women like they say they do, then returning Weinstein’s dirty money should be a no-brainer,” RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel tweeted last year.

UPDATE: Over the weekend, the RNC accepted Wynn's resignation as Finance Chair. Still no comment on returning his donations, which exceed $1.5 million.

Apparantly, Wynn has problems with more than just women. In his first Vegas incarnation he built up The Mirage, Treasure Island and Bellagio before pissing off his CFO, who walked out; soon after, Wynn himself was shown the door because of wretched excess of all kinds, including blowing through budgets and extensive self-dealing. He has also gained a reputation for an explosive temper (as documented in many lawsuits over the years).

“He wants what he wants when he wants it,” Elaine Wynn, who was then Wynn's wife and business partner, told Nina Munk of Vanity Fair. Munk also got to enjoy one of Wynn's famous outbursts, as she concluded an otherwise pleasant day with the mogul at his ski lodge in Idaho: 

“I’m wondering,” he says with an edge to his voice, “what story do you think you’re doing? What has occurred to you all this time? What seems important?”

He’s on the attack now—verbally, rhetorically. I’ve disappointed him, he says. I have failed to grasp his vision for Wynn Las Vegas. Specifically, he says, I have not posed the right questions. 

“I don’t give a shit what you write,” he snarls. “I have no control over it... But I’ve spent a lot of time talking to you. I’m wondering what the hell impression you’ve got of all this stuff!”

Wynn did love to make an impression. By, for instance, buying up Impressionists, as well as Picassos. Which is how he became the man who nearly trashed the most expensive painting in the world.

The Picasso in question, “Le Rêve,” is a 1932 portrait of the artist's girlfriend, Marie-Thérèse Walter.

Screenwriter/novelist Nora Ephron was there, and this is what she said about the incident: 

We went into Wynn’s office, which is just off the casino, past a waiting area with a group of fantastic Warhols, past a secretary’s desk with a Matisse over it (a Matisse over a secretary’s desk!) (and by the way a Renoir over another secretary’s desk!) and into Wynn’s office. There, on the wall, were two large Picassos, one of them Le Reve. Steve Wynn launched into a long story about the painting — he told us that it was a painting of Picasso’s mistress, Marie-Therese Walter, that it was extremely erotic, and that if you looked at it carefully (which I did, for the first time, although I’d seen it before at the Bellagio) you could see that the head of Marie-Therese was divided in two sections and that one of them was a penis. This was not a good moment for me vis a vis the painting. In fact, I would have to say that it made me pretty much think I wouldn’t pay five dollars for it. Wynn went on to tell us about the provenance of the painting - who’d first bought it and who’d then bought it. This brought us to the famous Victor and Sally Ganz, a New York couple who are a sort of ongoing caution to the sorts of people who currently populate the art world, because the Ganzes managed to accumulate a spectacular art collection in a small New York apartment with no money at all. The Ganz collection went up for auction in 1997, Wynn was saying — he was standing in front of the painting at this point, facing us. He raised his hand to show us something about the painting — and at that moment, his elbow crashed backwards right through the canvas.

There was a terrible noise.

Wynn stepped away from the painting, and there, smack in the middle of Marie-Therese Walter’s plump and allegedly-erotic forearm, was a black hole the size of a silver dollar - or, to be more exactly, the size of the tip of Steve Wynn’s elbow — with two three-inch long rips coming off it in either direction. Steve Wynn has retinitis pigmentosa, an eye disease that damages peripheral vision, but he could see quite clearly what had happened.

“Oh shit,” he said. “Look what I’ve done.”

The rest of us were speechless.

“Thank God it was me,” he said.

For sure.

The word “money” was mentioned by someone, or perhaps it was the word “deal.”

Wynn said: “This has nothing to do with money. The money means nothing to me. It’s that I had this painting in my care and I’ve damaged it.”

Perhaps Mr. Wynn has  a similar fealing right now, with regard to his reputation and everything he has built.

(Wynn/Trump photo from Twitter.)

Jeremy Bloom

When Jeremy Bloom isn't writing about energy, the environment, or the amazing strangeness of modern life, you can find him drinking really good single malt whisky...

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