Traverse City Record-Eagle

Life

December 6, 2013

Liberace exhibit a trove of glittery glam

LAS VEGAS (AP) — For years, Las Vegas tourists have had no place to pay their respects to one of the glitzy town’s founding fathers.

The once wildly popular Liberace museum, 2 miles from Sin City’s main tourist corridor, closed in 2010 after years of declining patronage, and the famously flamboyant entertainer’s shimmering artifacts have since languished in storage.

This week, a Strip casino is bringing some of Liberace’s most decadent possessions back into the public eye.

Visitors to the six-week exhibition at the Cosmopolitan Las Vegas will be able to gaze upon Liberace’s glittering piano, trademark European candelabras, and so-called Rhinestone Roadster, an old-time car decked out in faux gemstones.

Also on display are the custom-made cowboy boots, sequined jumpsuits and jewel-and-ermine capes that powered Liberace’s catchphrase, “My clothes may look funny but they’re making me the money.”

The flashy pianist became the best-paid entertainer on the planet during his heyday from the 1950s to the 1970s. He was the forerunner to gender-bender entertainers like Elton John, David Bowie, and Madonna, though he never openly addressed his sexual orientation, and his fans never seemed to catch on to his private gay life.

After his death in the 1980s, Liberace’s star faded faster than other Las Vegas fixtures like Frank Sinatra and Elvis. But this year has been good to his legacy.

In August, a British businessman bought Liberace’s 15,000-square-foot Las Vegas mansion for $500,000 and said he would work relentlessly to restore it to its former glory.

In May, Michael Douglas played the entertainer in the HBO biopic “Behind the Candelabra.”

The Cosmopolitan casino tends to attract a younger crowd, and the exhibit will be hard to miss, with artifacts scattered around the casino.

The installation is titled “Too Much of a Good Thing Is Wonderful,” and like its subject, it will keep late hours. It will be open through Jan. 2, from 3 p.m. until 10 p.m.

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