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LAS VEGAS -- Organized crime is back in vogue in Las Vegas. Two mob exhibits are slated to open this year and now a home owned by one of the best known mob figures of all is up for sale.
Oddsmaker and gaming executive Frank Lefty Rosenthal nursed himself back to health after an attempted assassination while living in the home on the Las Vegas Country Club. On October 4, 1982 outside Tony Roma's on east Sahara Ave., a powerful bomb ripped Rosenthal's Cadillac to shreds. Twenty-four hours later, three local reporters who covered the mob, including a younger me, were invited to Lefty's house late at night for a weird little sit-down. No cameras were allowed. It only another took 28 years to get back inside that home.
The car bomb scene in the movie Casino nearly took the life of mob front man Ace Rothstein. The real life explosion in 1982 was anything but glamorous. A tattered Frank Lefty Rosenthal barely survived. Fourteen years later, Rosenthal spoke about it on camera.
"I thought to myself, my car is on fire," he said. But 24 hours after he escaped death, Rosenthal gathered a small group of reporters to pass a message along to the mob -- he wouldn't become a rat.
If the room seems to ooze that vintage Vegas vibe, it's no accident. Every inch of its 3,200 square feet reeks of wiseguy chic.
"These are bullet proof doors, and really solid," said real estate agent Aaron Auxier who has learned plenty about the history and nuance of Lefty's luxurious sanctuary on the Las Vegas Country Club. The original deed shows Frank and his showgirl wife Geri bought it in the early 1970's for less than $16,000. After a fire, it was rebuilt to Rosenthal's demanding standards.
"The Stardust rebuilt it for Lefty. This staircase is a steel floating staircase, so there is a lot of casino construction," said Auxier. Stone work and framing are industrial strength and when it came to electronics, Rosenthal was way ahead of his time, almost a gangster geek.
"This electrical room actually says Rosenthal on the wall and it's pretty intricate. A phone guy saw it and said 'you guys could tap the whole neighborhood with this thing.'" A phone box by the pool would have allowed the cagey oddsmaker to switch lines multiple times if he thought he was being tapped -- which he was. The upstairs bedroom was packed with video monitors, linked to security cameras at the home as well as surveillance cameras at the Stardust so Lefty could keep an eye on the action.
The movie Casino used a different home but the story line is the same. Lefty wanted to spoil his not so blushing bride, give her everything she wanted and he did. Take the bathroom for example.
"It's a showgirl's bathroom, for sure. We like to show this part of the home because you get that feeling," said Auxier.
And like the Sharon Stone character, Geri Rosenthal loved furs. "This was Geri's main fur closet, so hidden away up here we have a hidden gun closet, so that's an interesting piece of history."
The mirrored ceilings are original along with casino style lighting. Two art pieces on the walls were owned by Rosenthal and the upstairs closet still has his tie rack. Autographed movie posters serve as reminders of the real life Las Vegas characters including tough Tony Spilotro, who would slip in through the back to meet with Lefty and even a reminder of the sharp attorney who helped keep Rosenthal out of trouble -- a guy named Oscar Goodman.
"I joke around but Mayor Oscar Goodman and Lefty had a good amount of drinks at this bar here."
It was in the driveway that the seeds for the mob's demise were planted. The spot where Geri had a huge fight with Lefty and split for good. And it's in the living room that Rosenthal healed his wounds and wondered about the culprits.
"I can't say with any accuracy who planted the bomb. That would be pure speculation," said Rosenthal who died in 2008 in Florida. The bombing remains unsolved. His wife Geri died weeks after that bombing. They owned the house for 12 years.