Interior designers were puzzled as to why Everett Casino in Boston suddenly installed a statue of the world’s most loved sailor in the middle of its vast casino floor. Popeye The Sailor Man, a fictional character that first appeared in 1929 and was popular until the late 80s, is now Everett’s official mascot that greets everyone who enters the casino’s massive gaming area.
“If you ask me, in a whimsical kind of way, he’s a great connection to the water for us,” said Bob DeSalvio, the Wynn Boston Harbor president.
The 2000-pound sculpture was made by world-renowned sculptor Jeff Koons and purchased by Everett owner, Steve Wynn himself, for a whopping $28 million. Shortly after Wynn was given a license to operate in the Greater Boston area in 2014, Wynn made it clear that Everett would become Popeye’s home.
“Yes, Popeye is a cartoon that was created in the ‘30s,” said DeSalvio. “But the piece is just incredibly gorgeous…I don’t think all art has to be serious, this is fun. This is just a great piece.”
Cartoon characters used as themes in casinos isn’t really a new idea. Their popularity is being used in order to draw in more guests, which is evident with the ongoing trend on how slot machines today are being made. Gala Casino’s roster of commercially-licensed slot machines like Snow White and Ghostbusters are proof that using cartoon characters as themes to slot machines actually work, as they bring color and vivid animation to every spin.
DeSalvio said owner Steve Wynn is a massive fan of Koon’s sculptures. In fact, Wynn is such a fan that Koon’s sculpture titled Tulips is also on display at Wynn Las Vegas. According to a spokesperson that works for Wynn, Tulips is being shipped to the Wynn Palace, which is an under-construction resort in China’s gambling central, Macau. Tulips will probably become the establishment’s most important piece as the sculpture is priced at $33.6 million, which is much more expensive than the Popeye piece.