LAS VEGAS (FOX5) -- Las Vegas Sands Chairman and CEO Sheldon Adelson died Monday night, according to a statement from the company.
Adelson died at 87 from complications related to treatment for non-Hodgkins lymphoma, the company said. Las Vegas Sands announced last week that Adelson would take medical leave for treatment.
Adelson's funeral will be held in Israel, the birthplace of his wife Dr. Miriam Adelson. A memorial service in Las Vegas will be announced at a later date, according to Las Vegas Sands.
Dr. Miriam Adelson released the following statement on her husband's passing:
It is with unbearable pain that I announce the death of my husband, Sheldon G. Adelson, of complications from a long illness.
Sheldon was the love of my life. He was my partner in romance, philanthropy, political activism and enterprise. He was my soulmate.
To me - as to his children, grandchildren, and his legions of friends and admirers, employees and colleagues - he is utterly irreplaceable.
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 was an all-American story of entrepreneurship. When Sheldon launched a new venture, the world looked on with anticipation.
In our amazing 32-year adventure together, I was fortunate to witness the beauty of Sheldon's private side.
He was an American patriot: a U.S. Army veteran who gave generously to wounded warriors and, wherever he could, looked to the advancement of these great United States. He was the proudest of Jews, who saw in the State of Israel not only the realization of an historical promise to a unique and deserving people, but also a gift from the Almighty to all of humanity.
And Sheldon was kind. He gave readily of his fortune to charitable causes that may literally be countless, as he expected no credit and often preferred anonymity. Although bluff in build and speech - and, in the last two decades, beset by painful sickness - Sheldon was always sensitive to the needs of others.
Visit any of our hotels and you will immediately notice the extraordinarily high ceilings, exquisitely designed by Sheldon at a sacrifice of lucrative space. He wanted all of our guests - no matter their means - to feel like kings, to breathe free in gorgeous tranquility. When the COVID-19 crisis hit and those hotels went dark, he insisted that our tens of thousands of Team Members continue getting their wages and medical insurance.
Each of those people, and millions of other beneficiaries of Sheldon's largesse, are his testimonials.
But he went beyond bettering the lives of individuals: He crafted the course of nations. Some of the historical changes that he helped effect - in the United States, Israel and elsewhere - are publicly known. Others are not. For Sheldon, recognition of his own indispensable role was unimportant. What counted was that good be done. He cared about standing up for what was right, even if that meant standing alone. His ideal day's end was in the company of family and friends, not statesmen or celebrities.
Sheldon and I grew up on coasts: him in Boston, me in Haifa. Together we sailed across oceans, pushed back the Pearl River Delta to help develop Macao's future, recreated the Venice lagoon canals in Las Vegas. To me, Sheldon had power and depth and mystery like the sea. His devotion lifted me up, like waves, through challenges both personal and professional.
And now he is gone. The supporting waters have vanished heavenward. Only a vast, dry seabed remains. The loss is colossal.
Farewell, my darling, my one true love. After gaining and giving so much, you have earned this rest.
Adelson was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma in March 2019.
In addition to heading Las Vegas Sands, which operates casinos such as The Venetian and Palazzo, Adelson is a GOP megadonor, recently giving $75 million to a super PAC that attacked President-elect Joe Biden. Adelson also owns the Las Vegas Review-Journal newspaper.
In business, Adelson transformed a landmark Las Vegas casino that was once a hangout of Frank Sinatra's Rat Pack into a towering Italian-inspired complex, trailblazed a trend of turning business conventions into a lucrative industry and left his mark on some of Asia's most cosmopolitan cities.
“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.
In politics, Adelson was a record-breaking campaign donor who had the ear of domestic and international leaders, including President Donald Trump. His advocacy redefined U.S. relations with Israel during the Trump administration and bolstered ties that U.S. politicians and American Jewish teenagers had to the country.
Adelson, the son of Jewish immigrants, once said at a gambling conference that he hoped his legacy would not be his glitzy casinos or hotels but his impact in Israel, where he had a deep and lifelong attachment.
In his modest office wedged among the casinos of the Las Vegas Strip, Adelson hosted top Republican Party strategists and candidates and helped ensure that uncritical support of Israel became a pillar of the GOP platform. That was never more visible 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 sat front and center at the ceremony in Jerusalem with his wife, Miriam.
More recently, he reportedly purchased the U.S. ambassador’s official residence near Tel Aviv for $67 million in a maneuver that appeared aimed at preventing the embassy from relocating back to Tel Aviv after Trump leaves office. 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 after his parole ended.
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 politicians. He also sponsored “Birthright” trips to Israel for young Jewish adults that were criticized by some participants as intolerant of opposing views.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Tuesday that Adelson “will forever be remembered” for his work strengthening ties between the U.S. and Israel.
Adelson has donated over $250 million to GOP candidates and groups since 2015.
“I’m against very wealthy people attempting to or influencing elections,” Adelson told Forbes magazine in 2012. “But as long as it’s doable I’m going to do it.” Forbes ranked him No. 19 in the U.S., worth an estimated $29.8 billion.
Late in 2015, Adelson secretly purchased the Las Vegas Review-Journal. The paper’s own reporters revealed he was the new owner, and some longtime staffers left in protest.
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.
Adelson was married twice. He and his first wife, Sandra, were divorced in 1988. Three years later, he married Miriam Farbstein-Ochshorn, an Israeli-born doctor he met on a blind date and who many believe helped deepen his involvement with Israel. Their honeymoon trip to Venice, Italy, inspired Adelson to raze the historic Sands hotel-casino and replace it with a pair of massive complexes: The Venetian and The Palazzo.
Adelson led efforts to move the NFL Raiders team from Oakland, California, to Las Vegas and was lauded for his decision during the coronavirus pandemic to keep his casino employees paid and insured despite a big slump in business.
Sheldon Adelson adopted his first wife’s three children and had two children with his second wife. Among the numerous philanthropic projects the couple supported, the research and treatment of substance abuse became a top priority. Sheldon Adelson's son Mitchell, from his first marriage, died of an overdose in 2005.
Adelson began to amass his fortune with a technology trade show, starting computer convention COMDEX in 1979 before selling his stake in 1995 for more than $800 million.
When he bought the Sands Hotel in 1989, he built a convention hall to keep his hotel rooms full on weekdays, a move copied by other resort owners. When he expanded his business to Macao, the only place in China where casino gambling is legal, Adelson directed his company to build land where there wasn’t any, piling sand up to create the Cotai Peninsula. Soon his Macao 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 became a signature of the skyline.
Gov. Steve Sisolak issued the following statement on the passing of Sheldon Adelson:
I was very saddened to hear of Sheldon Adelson’s passing. Sheldon was a man who believed in, succeeded in, and invested in bold and daring ideas that changed the State of Nevada.
He came from very humble beginnings and rose to international prominence as an entrepreneur, a builder, and a philanthropist. He started as a customer, by building the preeminent computer convention in the world hosted by Las Vegas. He saw an opportunity, which many dismissed, and built the first convention center and resort complex on the Las Vegas Strip.
His vision of Vegas as a premiere business destination had a dramatic impact, as other resorts adopted this new business model and conventions and business have become a critical part of our success.
Sheldon led the charge to bring the NFL to Las Vegas, and largely through his determination and leadership, we are now the home of the Las Vegas Raiders.
There is no doubt that the Adelson family has been among Nevada’s most charitable residents. From programs to help the homeless and hungry, support for our universities and schools, developing addiction clinics, building the Adelson School, the family’s generosity has touched every corner of our State.
For me, in these difficult times, one act stands above all. Despite suffering significant economic losses due to the global pandemic, the shutdowns and limited business, due to mitigation protocols, Sheldon made a commitment to keep all of his Las Vegas employees paid and insured. That commitment helped keep thousands of Nevadans afloat during the most difficult of months, and Sheldon’s commitment will never be forgotten.
Kathy and I extend our deepest sympathies to Dr. Adelson, his children and all of his family and friends during this incredibly difficult time.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.