One of the features offered by ELVIS-A-RAMA is a free courtesy bus that shuttles fans from the major hotels on the Las Vegas strip to the museum. During my visit two weeks ago, there were only eight passengers, so we all sat up front, and the bus driver shared a several good stories with us. Since you haven’t seen this on any of the other Elvis websites, here are two Elvisblog exclusives.
Two years ago, thieves broke into ELVIS-A-RAMA and stole nine articles valued at $300,000. In addition to a gold-plated Smith & Wesson .38 special, the haul included Elvis’ Humes High School ring, a Louisiana hayride “E. Presley” ring, a watch, a bracelet, a 41-carat star ruby and diamond ring worth $77,000, a $65,000 gold and black onyx medallion that spells “Elvis” in diamonds, and an 18-carat gold and diamond medallion with the initials “E P” on it.
The museum owner, Chris Davidson, assumed they were gone for good. After many months, the police and FBI could not track down the thieves, so he accepted the insurance settlement. Recently, the bumbling thief tried to sell the hot merchandise to a retired Elvis impersonator while he stood in line at a Las Vegas pharmacy. He convinced the thief to come back in 24 hours to his employment agency office, at which time the police made the bust.
All the stolen goods except a scarf were recovered. In the time between the robbery and the recovery, Davidson sold ELVIS-A-RAMA to CKX Inc, the folks now in charge of the Elvis Presley Estate. So who got the recovered Elvis jewelry and gun? Not CKX Inc. – they bought only the inventory at the time of the sale. Not Chris Davidson – he accepted the insurance settlement. According to the bus driver, it looks like the insurance company is now the proud owner of eight excellent Elvis collectibles. You can bet they will show up in some future auction.
The other story regaled by the bus driver has to do with the plans CKX has to create an Elvis-themed attraction in Las Vegas (as covered in an Oct 2, 2005 Elvisblog article). According to the driver, CKX has purchased a two-block long property on the strip between the Harley-Davidson Store & Restaurant and the MGM Grand Hotel/Casino. My wife and I took a walk up to look at that property, and it’s obvious that sooner-or-later somebody was going to buy it and build something big on it. It’s like throwback to earlier simpler times, much as you would find in a beach town: mini-marts, McDonalds, a tattoo parlor, T-shirt shops, an ear-piercing studio, and a two-story Travel Lodge Motel.
These modest establishments, in the shadow of huge hotel/casinos like the Aladdin and the Monte Carlo, seem so out of place. I think many folks will miss this little island of normalcy when it is gone, but I will certainly look forward to enjoying whatever Elvis attraction takes its place. For sure, there will be a restaurant, full of memorabilia on the walls. Of course, a big gift shop. Maybe a theater, like those in Branson, MO. The big question is whether there will be a hotel and casino, but don’t rule it out. Hooters and Planet Hollywood just got into the hotel/casino business in Las Vegas, so why not Elvis World?
© 2006 Philip R Arnold www.elvisblog.net