LAS VEGAS (February 2015) – The murder of Bugsy Siegel, one of the most infamous mobsters associated with Las Vegas, remains one of organized crime’s most notorious assassinations. Siegel-related artifacts at The Mob Museum – the National Museum of Organized Crime and Law Enforcement, rank among the Museum’s most popular exhibits. His story will be explored during “Who Killed Bugsy Siegel?” the next installment in The Mob Museum’s Courtroom Conversation series, to be held Tuesday, March 24, at 7 p.m. This panel discussion will explore Siegel’s life, his role in the rise of Las Vegas and the leading theories for his violent demise.
Mob legend Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel’s reign at the Flamingo Hotel in Las Vegas was cut short at age 41 by an assassin’s bullet on June 20, 1947, in Beverly Hills. No suspects have ever been arrested, although a number of plausible names and scenarios have been advanced, most of them revolving around Siegel’s business dealings in Las Vegas. Almost 70 years later, the Beverly Hills Police Department still considers the murder an open case.
In “Who Killed Bugsy Siegel?” a panel of experts, including The Mob Museum Director of Content Geoff Schumacher and historian/filmmaker Warren Hull, will explore scenarios and motives behind Siegel’s death including greed, Mob ties, vengeance, debts and betrayals. Preceding the discussion, Larry Gragg, author of the new book “Benjamin Bugsy Siegel: the Gangster, the Flamingo and the Making of Modern Las Vegas,” will give a short talk on Siegel’s life.
About Bugsy Siegel
Siegel got involved with the Mob as a teenager in New York City. He teamed up with Meyer Lansky early on, forming a criminal operation called the Bugs and Meyer Gang. Siegel’s nickname grew out of his hot-tempered nature, especially as a youth, but Siegel did not like the nickname and wise people did not use it in his presence.
In 1936, Siegel moved to Los Angeles to oversee the rackets there. He got interested in Las Vegas in the early 1940s. Siegel did not conceive of the Flamingo Hotel in Las Vegas, and he did not name it. He took over the project from Billy Wilkerson, who did not have enough money to finish it. Wilkerson envisioned spending $1.2 million to build the Flamingo. Siegel spent $6 million.
Siegel’s life inspired the movie Bugsy, and he was the basis for the Moe Greene character in The Godfather. He’s also a relatively minor character in the HBO series Boardwalk Empire.
About Larry Gragg
Larry Gragg is curators’ teaching professor of history at Missouri University of Science and Technology in Rolla, Mo. He has made more than 40 research trips to Las Vegas. Among his eight books are “Bright Light City: Las Vegas in Popular Culture” (2013) and “Benjamin Bugsy Siegel: The Gangster, the Flamingo, and the Making of Modern Las Vegas” (2015).
About Warren Hull
Warren Hull has served as the executive assistant to the chief of police for the Clark County School District Police Department in Las Vegas since 2007. A former member of the Naval Security Group attached to the National Security Agency, he has spent nearly 20 years researching and writing about Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel. Hull was recently named one of the “Top 50 Indie Writers in the World” by the Action on Film International Film Festival and his feature film screenplay on the Siegel murder, “Family Secret,” has won several prestigious film festival awards in the categories of Best Dramatic script and Best Crime Drama. In 2010, KLAS in Las Vegas received a regional Emmy nomination for the story they did on Hull’s Siegel theory. Hull, a longtime educator at the high school and collegiate levels, holds several advanced degrees and is pursuing his doctorate in public policy and administration with an emphasis on homeland security from Walden University. He is also a member of the International Association of Chiefs of Police.
About The Mob Museum’s Courtroom Conversations
Courtroom Conversations help fulfill The Mob Museum’s mission to advance the public understanding of organized crime’s history and impact on American society. Previous Courtroom Conversations have included “Beating the Line,” with sports betting experts Peter Bernhard, Barry Lieberman, Art Manteris and Ted Sevransky; “Women in Gaming,” featuring Elaine Wynn, Jan Jones Blackhurst and Patricia Becker; and “Protectors of the State,” with former Nevada governors Bob List, Richard Bryan and Bob Miller. Future Courtroom Conversations include:
- “Follow the Money,” a look at the T-Men, Elmer Irey’s investigative sleuths of the IRS who helped bring down mobsters such as Al Capone on tax evasion charges, set for April 16;
- “Jimmy Chagra, a discussion of this larger-than-life character by former Mayor Oscar Goodman, the lawyer who defended him, and Jack Sheehan, the journalist who interviewed him, set for May 28; and
- “What Happened to Jimmy Hoffa,” a look back at the tumultuous life of Hoffa and the leading theories behind his mysterious disappearance 40 years ago, will take place June 24.
ABOUT THE MOB MUSEUM
The Mob Museum is a world-class destination in downtown Las Vegas dedicated to the thrilling story of organized crime and law enforcement. It presents an exciting and authentic view of the Mob’s impact on Las Vegas history and its unique imprint on the world. True stories of Mob history are brought to life in a bold and contemporary style via engaging exhibits, high-tech theater presentations and more than 885 artifacts, the largest collection of Mob and related law enforcement memorabilia under one roof. Since opening in 2012, The Mob Museum has accumulated numerous accolades, including being named one of the “Best Places to Travel in 2015” by Travel + Leisure Magazine, “A Must for Travelers” by The New York Times, one of “20 Places Every American Should See” by Fox News and Budget Travel magazine, “Las Vegas’ Best New Attractions for 2012” by Travel + Leisure magazine, “9 Reasons to Visit Las Vegas” by CNNgo, a finalist for the “Best Wider World Project Award,” by the British Guild of Travel Writers and “Best Museum” by Nevada Magazine. Admission is $21.95 for adults ages 18 and over with special pricing for online purchase, children, seniors, military, law enforcement, Nevada residents, and teachers. Museum hours are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily, September through June; in July and August, hours are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Sunday through Thursday, and 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. For more information, call (702) 229-2734 or visit www.TheMobMuseum.org. Connect on Facebook: www.Facebook.com/TheMobMuseum, on Twitter: @TheMobMuseum and subscribe to the Museum’s Mobcast here.