Sheldon Adelson's coffin lands in Israel and is buried in Jerusalem

Billionaire Vegas casino mogul and Trump mega- donor Sheldon Adelson’s coffin arrives in Israel and is greeted by Benjamin Netanyahu ahead of his burial in Jerusalem

  • Billionaire Sheldon Adelson died Monday aged 87, Las Vegas Sands announced 
  • Adelson was being treated for non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma since 2019 diagnosis  
  • He was considered the nation’s most influential GOP donor in his final years
  • His coffin was met by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at airport
  • The funeral held at Jerusalem’s Mount of Olives Jewish cemetery on Friday

Billionaire Sheldon Adelson and mega-donor to US President Donald Trump, who died on Tuesday aged 87 after a long illness, has been buried in Jerusalem. 

The casino mogul’s coffin was greeted by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Adelson’s wife Miriam on Thursday night, and was buried on Friday.

The billionaire mogul and power broker, who built a casino empire spanning from Las Vegas to China and became a singular force in domestic and international politics, was being treated for non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. 

At one point the third richest man in the world, Adelson first announced that he was being treated for the cancer back in 2019.

Draped in an Israeli flag, Adelson’s coffin arrived at Ben Gurion Airport on Thursday, near the Israeli city of Lo, and was met by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who was pictured alongside Miriam Adelson.

The coffin was then taken Jerusalem’s Mount of Olives Jewish cemetery on Friday, with pictures showing his coffin being carried by mourners followed by his wife. 

The cemetery is the most ancient and important Jewish cemetery in Jerusalem, with burials starting there some 3,000 years ago. It contains anywhere between 70,000 to 150,000 tombs, containing some of the most significant figures in Jewish history.  

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stands before the casket of Sheldon Adelson , next to the wife of the deceased Miriam Adelson, upon its arrival at Ben Gurion Airport, near the Israeli city of Lod, on January 14

Mourners carry the casket of Sheldon Adelson at Jerusalem’s Mount of Olives Jewish cemetery on January 15

Las Vegas Sands chairman and major Donald Trump donor Sheldon Adelson, pictured, above died on Monday aged 87 afer a long illness, the company announced

Adelson is mourned by official Israel as a powerful benefactor with direct access to U.S. presidents. Others on Wednesday saw a legacy tinged with controversy and touched by deadly conflict.

The Las Vegas casino magnate was a prolific donor to causes that aligned with his hawkish vision of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. 

He had a robust alliance with Netanyahu, and spent tens of millions of dollars supporting President Donald Trump’s election campaigns.

Trump’s election in 2016 opened a final, four-year window for Adelson’s clout with both leaders to produce policy that overwhelmingly favored Israel over Palestinians.

As the sun sets on the Trump presidency and Netanyahu fights for re-election, Adelson’s influence survives. 

‘With a new administration entering the White House and the Democrats controlling both houses of Congress, Israel must cut the umbilical cord connecting it to the conservative wing of the Republican party,’ the liberal Haaretz daily wrote in an editorial Wednesday.          

Trump paid tribute to Adelson following his death on Tuesday.

Miriam Adelson stands before the casket of her husband, Sheldon Adelson, upon its arrival at Ben Gurion Airport, near the Israeli city of Lod,on January 14

Miriam Adelson, wife of Sheldon Adelson attends his funeral in a cemetery in Jerusalem, January 15

The coffin of Sheldon Adelson is carried to be buried during his funeral in a cemetery in Jerusalem, January 15

‘His ingenuity, genius, and creativity earned him immense wealth, but his character and philanthropic generosity his great name,’ Trump said in a statement. 

‘Sheldon was also a staunch supporter of our great ally the State of Israel. He tirelessly advocated for the relocation of the United States embassy to Jerusalem, the recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, and the pursuit of peace between Israel and its neighbors,’ the president added. 

‘Sheldon was true to his family, his country, and all those that knew him. The world has lost a great man. He will be missed.’

He was considered the nation’s most influential GOP donor over the final years of his life, at times setting records for individual contributions during a given election cycle.  

He recently gave $75 million to a super PAC that attacked President-elect Joe Biden in the lead-up to last November’s election. 

Adelson and his wife Miriam, 75, set new records for political donations in the 2020 cycle, giving a total of $218 million to President Donald Trump’s campaign and various Republican causes.  

Adelson and his wife Miriam, 75, set new records for political donations in the 2020 cycle, giving a total of $218 million to President Trump’s campaign and various Republican causes

Former president George W. Bush also called Adelson ‘an American patriot’. 

‘Sheldon battled his way out of a tough Boston neighborhood to build a successful enterprise that loyally employed tens of thousands and entertained millons,’ said former President Bush. 

‘He was an American patriot, a generous benefactor of charitable causes, and a strong supporter of Israel.’ 

Adelson also underwrote a free daily newspaper that served as an unofficial mouthpiece for Netanyahu. Critics said the publication amounted to a multi-million dollar campaign contribution.

‘That level of political funding gave him unprecedented access and influence over Israeli politics,’ said Anshel Pfeffer, a Haaretz columnist, adding that Adelson would be remembered as a ‘corrosive’ influence in both U.S. and Israeli politics.

His wife Miriam, pictured with him above, called Adelson the ‘love of my life’

Sheldon Adelson (left) listens to Israeli President Shimon Peres in August 2007

Adelson was more about policy than people. He occasionally differed with Netanyahu, said Yossi Beilin, a dovish former Israeli Cabinet minister who, despite deep ideological differences, worked with Adelson on the Birthright program.

He noted that Adelson had some conflicts with Trump before his election, only to become a driving force in White House policy.

‘He supported the policy of the right in Israel, whoever led this policy,’ said Beilin. ‘And what he thought was right for Israel, it was usually very much to the right, with a capital R.’

Netanyahu, in one of a string of effusive eulogies by Israeli leaders, called Adelson ‘an incredible champion of the Jewish people, the Jewish state and the alliance between Israel and America.’

But others saw Adelson as a front-and-center presence of a series of of inflammatory moves by Israel during the Trump administration.

Hanan Ashrawi, a former senior Palestinian official and peace negotiator, said Adelson’s support ‘enabled Israel and encouraged it to continue with its impunity and lawlessness, to expand settlements.’

‘His impact on policy in the U.S. and Israel was enormous and extremely negative,’ she said. He advanced ‘an agenda of (Israeli) expansion and total disregard for Palestinian rights.’

Adelson pictured in 2008 with members of his family. He is survived by three sons, Gary, Adam and Matan Adelson; three daughters, Shelley Adelson, Sivan Dumont and Yasmin Lukatz

Don King (pictured right) speaks with Sheldon Adelson before the first 2016 presidential debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York on September 26, 2016

In 2018, Adelson watched from the front row as the president’s daughter, Ivanka Trump, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and other administration officials triumphantly dedicated a new U.S. Embassy in contested Jerusalem, underscoring the administration’s view of the city as the capital of Israel. 

Palestinians, who see Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem as their future capital, were infuriated. 

On the same day, Israeli forces shot and killed dozens of Palestinians and wounded hundreds during mass protests along the Gaza border against the embassy’s move from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. 

It was by far the deadliest day of cross-border violence since a devastating 2014 war between Israel and Gaza’s Hamas rulers.

Nearly a year ago, Adelson was present at the White House when Trump unveiled a Mideast plan that endorsed Israel’s claims to Jerusalem and its ongoing settlement enterprise in the West Bank. 

Adelson’s philanthropy includes a new medical school in a West Bank settlement.

More recently, Adelson reportedly purchased the U.S. ambassador’s official residence near Tel Aviv for some $67 million in a move that was seen as helping prevent the embassy from relocating back to Tel Aviv after Trump leaves office.

And just weeks ago, Adelson provided a private plane for Jonathan Pollard, a former U.S. intelligence analyst who spent 30 years in prison for spying for Israel, to move to Israel. Pollard kissed the ground as Netanyahu welcomed him.

Sheldon Adelson, Miriam Ochsorn and Texas Governor Rick Perry in 2014

President George W. Bush led the tributes to Adelson on Tuesday

Donald Trump Jr. also called Adelson an ‘American Patriot’, pictured above

A son of Jewish immigrants, Adelson was raised with two siblings in a Boston tenement, who over the second half of his life became one of the world’s richest men.

His father was descended from Jewish Ukrainian and Lithuanian ancestors while his mother had immigrated from England. Among his ancestors had been a Welsh coal miner, Adelson claimed.  

He was the majority shareholder of the Las Vegas Sands, and one of the world’s biggest casino moguls. 

The company owns the Venetian and Palazzo hotel and casinos on the Las Vegas Strip, along with properties in Singapore and Macao.

The chairman and CEO of the Las Vegas Sands Corporation brought singing gondoliers to the Las Vegas Strip and foresaw correctly that Asia would be an even bigger market. 

Multi-billionaire Sheldon Adelson at The Palazzo Las Vegas in 2008

He also owned the largest circulating newspaper in the Nevada, the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

Though Adelson is not the listed publisher of the Review-Journal, the rival Las Vegas Sun recently accused him of having ‘operational control’ of the paper in a court dispute over a joint-operating agreement.

In 2018, Forbes ranked him No. 15 in the U.S., worth an estimated $35.5 billion.

‘If you do things differently, success will follow you like a shadow,’ he said during a 2014 talk to the gambling industry in Las Vegas. 

Adelson was married twice. He and his first wife, Sandra Shapiro, were divorced in 1988. 

Three years later, he married Miriam Farbstein-Ochshorn, an Israeli-born doctor he met on a blind date and whom many believe helped deepen his involvement with Israel. 

Their honeymoon trip to Venice inspired Adelson to raze the historic Sands hotel-casino, once a favorite hangout for Frank Sinatra among others, and replace them with a pair of massive complexes: The Venetian and The Palazzo, one of the city´s tallest buildings.

Sheldon Adelson adopted his first wife’s three children – Gary, Mitchell and Shelly – and had two children, Adam and Matan, with his second wife. 

He also had two stepchildren, Yasmin Lukatz and Sivan Dumont; and 11 grandchildren. 

Among numerous philanthropic projects, he and Miriam Adelson were especially committed to the research and treatment of substance abuse, a personal cause for Adelson. 

His son Mitchell, from his first marriage, died of an overdose in 2005 and Adelson would spend millions opposing Nevada efforts to legalize marijuana.

Sheldon Adelson with his sons from his second marriage, Adam and Matan, in 2009

Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber, Sheldon Adelson and his wife Dr. Miriam Adelson talk at a pre-show reception on the opening night of ‘Phantom – The Las Vegas Spectacular’ in 2006

Sheldon Adelson, wife Miriam Adelson, former Speaker of the House John Boehner, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich and his wife Callista at Trump’s 2016 inauguration

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert (right) reads a book along side Dr Miriam and Sheldon G. Adelson along side Dr Miriam and Sheldon G. Adelson during a ceremony in 2006

Former New York City Mayor (pictured center) kisses the hand of businessman Sheldon Adelson’s wife Miriam Ochsorn before the debate between Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump in September 2016

‘Much has been written and said about how Sheldon, the son of poor immigrants, rose to the pinnacle of business success on the strength of grit and genius, inspiration and integrity,’ his wife Miriam wrote in a statement Tuesday. 

‘His was an all-American story of entrepreneurship. When Sheldon launched a new venture, the world looked on with anticipation.’ 

‘Sheldon was the love of my life. He was my partner in romance, philanthropy, political activism and enterprise. He was my soulmate,’ she added. 

‘To me – as to his children, grandchildren, and his legions of friends and admirers, employees and colleagues – he is utterly irreplaceable.’ 

Blunt yet secretive, Adelson resembled an old-fashioned political boss and stood apart from most American Jews, who for decades have supported Democrats by wide margins.  

Adelson is a Republican megadonor who recently gave $75 million to a super PAC that attacked President-elect Joe Biden in the lead-up to last November’s election

 ‘Much has been written and said about how Sheldon, the son of poor immigrants, rose to the pinnacle of business success on the strength of grit and genius, inspiration and integrity,’ his wife Miriam, pictured with him above, wrote in a statement Tuesday

The chairman and CEO of the Las Vegas Sands Corporation brought singing gondoliers to the Las Vegas Strip. Adelson is pictured above in July 1999

In what was widely seen as a mark of the Adelsons’ influence with Trump, Miriam Adelson was given a Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2018. 

For the 2018 midterm elections, Adelson donated about $113 million to the Republican Party through various conservative political action committees.

In 2012, Politico called him ‘the dominant pioneer of the super PAC era’. 

Adelson regularly hosted the party’s top strategists and most ambitious candidates at his modest office, wedged among the casinos on the Strip. 

Throughout, he helped ensure that uncritical support of Israel became a pillar of the GOP platform, never more visibly demonstrated than when the Trump administration relocated the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in 2018.

The inflammatory move had been adamantly opposed by Palestinians and was long a priority for Adelson, who had even offered to help pay for it, and for the Republican Jewish Coalition, of which he was the primary benefactor. Adelson and Miriam were front and center at the ceremony in Jerusalem.

Adelson also recently made news for offering his private jet to Jonathan Pollard, who spent 30 years in U.S. prison for spying for Israel.

Pollard used Adelson’s lavish private Boeing 737 to return to Israel last month, after finishing his sentence for selling classified U.S. secrets to the nation in the 1980s.   

Adelson and his wife Miram, 75, (together in 2019) set new records for political donations in the 2020 cycle, giving a total of $218 million to Republican causes

Adelson and wife Miriam pictured with Vice President Mike Pence

Adelson pictured center with Sophia Loren at the opening of the Venetian in May 1999

With Adelson’s death, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu loses a key U.S. backer who for the last four years had the ear of the American president and worked tirelessly to push Israel´s priorities at the White House and in Congress. 

He also bids farewell to an important backroom player in Israeli politics who funded an influential free daily newspaper that served as an unofficial mouthpiece for Netanyahu.

‘Sheldon’s great actions to strengthen Israel´s position in the U.S. and to strengthen ties between Israel and the diaspora will be remembered for generations,’ Netanyahu said in a statement, adding he had received news of Adelson’s death with ‘deep sorrow and heartbreak.’

‘We will forever remember Sheldon and his great contribution to Israel and the Jewish people.’

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was also among those paying tribute to Adelson on Tuesday. 

‘Our nation lost a remarkable American with the passing of my friend Sheldon Adelson,’ McConnell said in a statement. 

‘Sheldon built an incredible life and career. He climbed from sleeping on tenement floors during the Great Depression as a young boy to literally towering over Las Vegas and beyond.’ 

House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy called Adelson ‘one of the greatest, most generous businessmen in history’. 

‘Sheldon Adelson had a deep love of country, love of community, and love of Israel,’ McCarthy added. 

‘His life made him a fearless advocate for freedom and entrepreneurship and a source of counsel and support to a generation of conservatives, including me.’

‘Sheldon was a true American patriot and a giant among men,’ Trump Jr. wrote in a tweet. 

‘He treated his employees like family. His philanthropic generosity changed countless lives. The US-Israel relationship is stronger today because of him. My heart goes out to the Adelson family.’

Sheldon Adelson stands before some of the Italian artwork that was recreated to adorn the Venetian Resort hotel-casino in Las Vegas in March 1999

Sheldon Garry Adelson was born in 1933, in the Dorchester neighborhood of Boston. His father was a taxi driver, his mother the manager of a knitting store. 

A natural entrepreneur, he was selling newspapers by age 12 and running a vending machine business at 16. 

After dropping out of City College of New York and serving in the Army, he attempted to start dozens of businesses, from toiletries to de-icing windshields. 

Adelson, who said he disdained email, began to amass his fortune with a technology trade show, starting computer convention COMDEX in 1979 with partners before selling his stake in 1995 for more than $800 million.

When he bought the Sands Hotel in 1989, he was thinking convention space, not just gambling, would make money. It did. He built a convention hall to keep his hotel rooms full on weekdays and others soon followed the business model. 

Meanwhile, his effort to replicate the Strip in Macau, the only Chinese province to allow gambling, made his wealth grow exponentially.

When faced with water and marsh land, Adelson directed his company to build land where there wasn’t any, piling sand up to create the Cotai Peninsula. Soon his Macau revenue outstripped that of his Las Vegas holdings. 

He later expanded his business to Singapore, where his Marina Bay Sands hotel and its infinity pool were featured in the hit film ‘Crazy Rich Asians’, and had been pressing to open a casino in Japan.

His Macau business also spawned a long-running wrongful termination lawsuit brought by a former chief of Sands China Ltd. who accused Adelson and the company of firing him for exposing a host of misdeeds. Adelson often clashed with attorneys while appearing on a Clark County courtroom´s witness stand.

The Sands China lawsuit was among dozens involving Adelson, whose cases included his suing a Wall Street Journal reporter for calling him ‘foul-mouthed’ (the parties settled, the words remained) to being sued by his sons from his first marriage for cheating them out of money (he won).

A long-running feud with fellow casino tycoon Steve Wynn turned to friendship when Wynn joined Adelson’s effort to end online gambling. Critics said Adelson was trying to stifle competition. 

Adelson countered that there was no way to ensure children and teenagers wouldn´t gamble and said he was ‘not in favor of it exploiting the world´s most vulnerable people.’

Adelson speaking about the construction of The Venetian in January 1999

Adelson’s company owns the Venetian and Palazzo hotel and casinos on the Las Vegas Strip, along with properties in Singapore and Macao (above)

When asked at a gambling conference what he hoped his legacy would be, Adelson said it wasn’t his glitzy casinos or hotels, it was his impact in Israel. 

He donated $25 million, a record sum for a private citizen, to Israel’s Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial. He established a think tank in Jerusalem. 

He was closely aligned with the conservative Likud party and funded a widely-read free daily newspaper called ‘Israel Hayom,’ or ‘Israel Today,’ so supportive of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that some Israelis nicknamed it ‘Bibi-ton.’

In the U.S., Adelson helped underwrite congressional trips to Israel, helped build a new headquarters for the lobbying group the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and later was a top supporter of the Israeli-American Council, whose conferences have attracted top Republicans (Vice President Mike Pence) and Democrats (House Speaker Nancy Pelosi). 

He sponsored ‘Birthright’ trips to Israel for young Jewish adults that were criticized by some participants as intolerant of opposing views.

His attachment to Israel was life-long and so deep that he once said he wished his military service had been in an Israeli uniform instead of an American one. 

Acting CEO of Las Vegas Sands’ Rob Goldstein is expected to retain his new position on a permanent basis following the death of the company’s chairman Sheldon Adelson.

Goldstein, 64, was named to the position on Friday as it was announced that Adelson was taking a medical leave of absence for treatment. 

Rob Goldstein, pictured above left with Sheldon Adelson, took over as Acting CEO of Las Vegas Sands last Friday after it was announced Adelson was receiving cancer treatment. Adelson passed away on Monday night aged 87 after his lengthy battle with cancer

Last year saw Las Vegas Sands make massive losses due to COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns

Over the past six months, the company has slowly started to grow back after taking a massive hit during the coronavirus pandemic as it focused on the gambling market in Asia

Shares in Las Vegas Sands took a fall after the announcement of Adelson’s death

Yet analysts believe the company is poised for further success under gambling veteran Goldstein. 

‘Adelson built a strong and loyal culture with the appointment and ascension of Rob Goldstein, Wilfred Wong, Patrick Dumont amongst others,’ Macquarie Research analyst Chad Beynon said of Goldstein’s takeover

‘We believe the executive structure has long been in place and is well positioned for transition.

‘The new leadership of the company could open the door for future M&A given Adelson’s preference of developing assets, not acquiring.’

‘While it’s sad to see his passing the company is in good hands with Rob Goldstein,’ added Charles Norton, a portfolio manager at Dallas-based Penn Davis McFarland, who owns approximately 200,000 shares of Las Vegas Sands Corp.

The gambling industry has been one of the hardest hit during the global pandemic, with Adelson already having made the decision to look into the sale of Sands’ two flagship hotel-casinos in Las Vegas.

It was revealed in October 2020 that Sands, the world’s largest casino company, was looking for potential buyers for the Venetian Resort Las Vegas and the Palazzo, as well as Sands Expo Convention Center, which are all based along the city’s famous Strip

As of June 30, Sands had $13.82 billion total outstanding debt, excluding finance leases, and reported a third-quarter loss of $565 million.

Then Sands President and COO Goldstein had said at the time: ‘I’ve never felt more gloomy than I do today about what’s happening in Las Vegas. We’re in a world of hurt here in terms of Las Vegas.’

Adelson was the majority shareholder in the company currently valued at $37.5billion and the sale of the company’s casinos is Vegas would have marked his departure from the U.S. gambling market and left the mogul focused on Asia.

It is not immediately clear who will take over Adelson’s shares in the company.

According to Seeking Alpha, the controlling equity of Las Vegas Sands will evolve into the family foundation. 

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