Adrian Sainz, AP, Dec. 8, 2006
The Seminole Tribe of Florida said Thursday it was buying the famed Hard Rock business, including its casinos, restaurants, hotels and huge collection of rock ‘n’ roll memorabilia, in a groundbreaking $965 million deal with a British company.
The Seminoles were the first U.S. tribe to get into the gambling business, in 1979. More recently, they partnered with Hard Rock in successful hotel, gambling and entertainment complexes in Tampa and Hollywood, Fla. They now have the ability to expand their gaming interests nationally by partnering with a well-known brand, experts said.
The tribe also will acquire what is said to be the world’s largest collection of rock memorabilia, about 70,000 pieces, including Jimi Hendrix’s Flying V guitar, one of Madonna’s bustiers, a pair of Elton John’s high-heeled shoes and guitars formerly owned by Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton and Chuck Berry.
At a Thursday news conference in New York that began with a blessing from a tribal representative, tribe Vice Chairman Max Osceola compared the sale to when American Indians sold Manhattan to the Dutch for “trinkets.”
“We’re going to buy Manhattan back one hamburger at a time,” Osceola said.