Las Vegas Sun

September 1, 2014

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Atwell settles suit over New Frontier sale fees

At a bankruptcy auction in 1987, local real estate broker David Atwell was lucky enough to represent a Japanese billionaire who entered the winning bid of $157 million for the Dunes hotel.

The price was a Las Vegas record that eventually became known as a bargain, as those 168 acres would be used to build the Bellagio, Monte Carlo and, now, the $9.2 billion CityCenter.

Atwell got lucky again last year, setting a new land record in the sale of the New Frontier casino site to Israeli conglomerate El-Ad Group for $1.24 billion.

El-Ad has plans to build a megaresort resembling the company's landmark Plaza hotel in New York. The housing downturn, which has made banks reluctant to lend money to finance big projects, has delayed the development of the proposed Plaza Las Vegas.

Like many brokers involved in big deals, Atwell's involvement went unmentioned.

For a time, he also went unpaid.

Atwell sued El-Ad, claiming he was owed a 1 percent fee for initiating the transaction. Atwell says El-Ad was referred to him by a law firm working with New York developer The Related Cos. He had previously sold a potential condo site to Related near the Strip.

El-Ad had argued that Atwell wasn't entitled to the fee.

Both parties have settled the lawsuit for an undisclosed sum that's believed to be less than the $12.4 million Atwell sought.

"After months of depositions and legal maneuvers, we settled the suit amicably and I wish them well," he said today.

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