Visitors disrespect and even damage art in our hotels

Well-heeled: Even in a casino, the art is not made for touching.
Photo: Justin M. Bowen

Las Vegas pitches itself as this increasingly sophisticated, yet still inebriated good time, a getaway for gawking tourists unleashing wild behavior during a four-day junket that includes drink coupons and exposure to contemporary art. But it seems that the blend of art and recklessness has yet to settle in. Maybe we just can’t have nice things.

Just take a gander at what is and isn’t on the floor of the newly christened Cosmopolitan. Objects d’art on display opening week were removed shortly after for repair. The Roark Gourley high-gloss 9-foot stiletto shoes on the second-floor promenade are nicked and chipped, possibly by photo-snapping tourists lost in a Disneyland moment, some of whom crawled into the insole for a more enveloping big-shoe experience.

The Gourley sculptures, set in a wide corridor, are now surrounded by a new decorative rope. But that hasn’t stopped tourists from throwing themselves onto the works. While the three-dimensional works—including a sculpture of multiple hands that lost some of its fingers thanks to overeager visitors—remain vulnerable, the two-dimensional works seem unharmed. Chris Burns, director of content and entertainment curation at the Cosmopolitan, says management is looking at ways to make the pieces more user-friendly.

Speaking of art on the Strip: We’re still wondering what happened to that Julian Schnabel suite of Christopher Walken photographs outside the Deuce bar at Aria. A bouncer reportedly told guests that one of the photographs was damaged by a reveler and removed, but an Aria publicist has not responded to requests for comment.

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