Hilton demands piece of Las Vegas Strip land sale windfall

Hotel giant Hilton Worldwide Inc. filed another lawsuit Wednesday in hopes of recovering $1.1 million from a failed effort to develop a luxury property on the Las Vegas Strip.

Hilton sued Majestic Resorts Inc., Majestic Resorts President Lorenzo M. Doumani and other members of the Doumani family in hopes of recovering at least $1.1 million that had been awarded Hilton by an arbitrator after their development deal fell apart.

In an earlier lawsuit filed by Hilton, the Nevada Supreme Court last year upheld the arbitration award.

The dispute related to plans by Majestic and the Doumanis to team with Hilton for development of a luxury Conrad brand hotel and a condominium tower at the 5.43-acre site of the Doumanis’ historic and now-extinct La Concha Motel and their El Morocco Hotel, just south of the Riviera hotel-casino.

The Conrad was never built amid disputes between the parties and – during the economic boom in 2006 – soaring construction costs and uncertainties about potential condominium sales.

The land at issue remains undeveloped and Hilton, in its lawsuit Wednesday, suggested Hilton hasn’t been paid the $1.1 million even after the Doumanis made a fortune by selling the land in October 2007, just before the recession slashed Las Vegas land values.

The land was sold for $180 million to an affiliate of real estate development company Triple Five Nevada Development Corp. That amounted to a near-record $33.1 million per acre, the lawsuit noted.

Hilton charged in Wednesday’s lawsuit that despite facing an arbitration award in favor of Hilton, Majestic in October 2007 distributed $169 million to its shareholders: Lorenzo Doumani and other members of the Doumani family.

This left Majestic with just $355,000 in cash assets -- $200,000 of which was later distributed by Lorenzo Doumani to himself, the lawsuit says.

The suit asserts these transfers amounted to fraudulent transfers and were made to "hinder, delay and/or defraud Hilton."

Majestic and the Doumanis have not yet responded to the lawsuit. An attorney who represented them in the dispute before the Nevada Supreme Court said Thursday he was unaware of the new lawsuit.

Besides Majestic and Lorenzo Doumani, the other defendants in Wednesday’s lawsuit are Lorenzo Doumani’s father Edward Doumani; his sisters Dahlia Doumani and Dominique Doumani; his uncle Fred Doumani Sr.; and his cousins Fred Doumani Jr. and Ronald Doumani.

The Doumanis are one of the more colorful families in the history of Las Vegas casinos, with Fred Doumani Sr. known as the landlord of the Tropicana while the mob skimmed millions of dollars from the casino in the 1970s. Doumani didn’t run the casino and was never charged.

In 1998, Fred Doumani Sr. sued "60 Minutes" when he said it falsely reported he had ties to mob figures.