Sheldon Adelson, Billionaire Philanthropist in US and Israel, Dies at 87
Sheldon and Miriam Adelson in 2008 at the Woodrow Wilson Award ceremony. (WIkimedia Commons)

Sheldon Adelson, Billionaire Philanthropist in US and Israel, Dies at 87

Casino mogul and megadonor who favored Republican and conservative causes to be buried in Israel.

Billionaire philanthropist and casino owner Sheldon Gary Adelson has died.

Adelson died on Monday night at the age of 87 from complications of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.  Dr. Miriam Adelson announced her husband’s death in a statement which said that “Sheldon was the love of my life. He was my partner in romance, philanthropy, political activism and enterprise. He was my soulmate.”

A funeral will be held in Israel, and a memorial service will be scheduled for Las Vegas.

As a casino mogul who owned a string of hotels, resorts and casinos in Las Vegas, Macau and Singapore through the publicly traded Las Vegas Sands Inc. (NYSE:LVS), Adelson worked tirelessly to fund causes close to his heart in Israel, and donated to conservative politicians and causes in the United States.

Over the past decade, Adelson and his Israeli-born wife became among the largest donors to Republican and conservative causes in the US. In 2012, they brought close to $150 million into the coffers of conservative politicians, including some $20 million to then-candidate Donald Trump during his first presidential race.

Adelson also was a major contributor President Trump’s 2016 inauguration celebration, committing some $5 million to pay for the festivities.

During the past decade, the couple continued to donate hundreds of millions of dollars to Republican political groups throughout the US.

Forbes Magazine listed his fortune at the time of his death at nearly $35 billion.

In 2018, Israel-born Miriam Adelson was honored with the US Medal of Freedom, the country’s highest civilian honor, awarded by  President Trump.

In Israel, Adelson helped found and fund in 2007, the free daily newspaper Israel Hayom (Israel Today), whose right-leaning editorial policies support current Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.

Netanyahu mourned Adelson’s death in a statement issued Tuesday in Israel. “Sara and I are heartbroken by the passing of Sheldon Adelson. He was a wonderful friend to us personally and an incredible champion of the Jewish people, the Jewish state’s and the alliance between Israel and America,” Netanyahu said.

“With his wife Miri, he contributed endlessly to strengthening the Jewish people and the Jewish state, funding breakthroughs in medicine and science and advancing higher education. He gave anonymously to help victims of terror and countless other people in need. Sara and I join Miri and the family in mourning a great friend, a great man, and a great Jewish patriot,” Netanyahu also said.

Adelson was scheduled to be a key witness in Netanyahu’s upcoming bribery, fraud and breach of trust trial.

Adelson supported the Birthright Israel-Taglit program, which brings young Jewish adults from around the world to Israel for free 10-day trips. According to reports, his philanthropy to the program reached half a billion dollars.

The Adelsons have been major donors to local universities including the Interdisciplinary Center in Herziliya, located just north of Tel Aviv, for whom its Adelson Center for Entrepreneurship is named, and to Ariel University to open the Dr. Miriam and Sheldon G. Adelson School of Medicine, located in the Jewish West Bank city of Ariel.

Prof. Yehuda Danon, president of Ariel University, told The Media Line that Adelson’s relationship with Israel started over 45 years ago when he was approached by two former Israelis living in the US – businessmen Meshulam Riklis and Ted Arison – to set up a new maritime cruise business. Together the team and investors created Carnival Cruises. Later, when Arison bought out his partners, Adelson looked over the corporation’s data and discovered that much of the cruise profits came from gambling.

With that knowledge and following the sale of Comdex, a lucrative computer industry trade show and convention, Adelson bought the Las Vegas Sands, a hotel-casino-resort, turning that into the first piece of his continent-straddling gambling empire.

Adelson met his second wife, Miriam, on his first-ever flight to Israel, which followed on the heels of a meeting with the late Moshe Arens, an Israeli diplomat, Likud politician, minister and professor of aeronautics. Arens was given the moniker “Adelson’s matchmaker” for bringing the couple together, Danon, who served in the Israel Defense Forces with Miriam Adelson, said.

“He was one of the biggest and greatest supporters of Jewish education in Israel. We are proud that he chose Ariel University as one his largest single gifts, some $40 million, that created our school of medicine in 2018,” Danon said.

Born in 1933 in Boston to immigrant Jewish parents, Adelson has said that he grew up supporting Democratic causes and learned early to work hard and become an entrepreneur, lessons that would enable him to succeed throughout life.

Adelson was revealed recently to be ill with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, receiving treatments beginning in 2019, as well as being diagnosed with a neuromuscular disorder which had forced him into a wheelchair in recent years.

He is survived by children from both of his marriages: three sons, Gary, Adam and Matan Adelson; three daughters, Shelley Adelson, Sivan Dumont and Yasmin Lukatz ; and 11 grandchildren.


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