Shane Smith, the 44-year-old CEO of Brooklyn, New York-based Vice Media, apparently has a large and expensive appetite. Along with at least 11 of his pals in January, Smith enjoyed a single dinner at Prime Steakhouse in the Las Vegas Bellagio Hotel that ended up with a check for $300,000 — and Smith picked up the whole tab, according to a Bloomberg News report published Thursday.
The original revelation of the extravagant steak dinner, which included at least one bottle of wine priced at more than $15,000, came from Jim Curren, chairman of the Bellagio’s parent company, MGM Resorts International, during an earnings call for financial analysts and investors Tuesday.
Curren did not identify the diner who picked up the check, but told listeners on the conference call about the $300,000 dinner and called it “encouraging,” saying that the fact that anyone would drop $300,000 on a single dinner shows that the economy of the Las Vegas Strip was on the upswing.
“People are starting to spend money remarkably here,” Curren said, calling the $300,000 tab, “a pretty good check,” and adding, “you would have liked the wine.”
While Curren gave the head count for the dinner at a dozen, one of the dinner guests told Bloomberg that there were closer to 25 people at the restaurant gathering that evening. The dinner guest did not wish to be indentified, the Bloomberg report said.
Smith was in Las Vegas to attend the International Consumer Electronics Show, but apparently had plenty of time to kill at the blackjack table as well, because according to reports, he won about $100,000 before his $300,000 dinner splurge.
But even without his gambling winnings, Smith could probably afford to treat his buddies to a $300,000 dinner. According to Forbes Magazine, a $70 million investment by Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox corporation left Vice Media valued at $1.4 billion — giving Smith an estimated net worth of $400 million, the noted financial magazine said.
“At this point, I don’t give a s*** about money,” Smith told Forbes in a 2011 interview. “I’m worth more money than I can ever spend.”
Vice began as a low-budget monthly magazine in Montreal, Canada, but a shrewd instinct to begin producing online video content in the era before YouTube and other online video services existed helped jumpstart the publication’s incredible growth into a multimedia, global empire.
An exposé by the New York site Gawker last December, however, revealed that the average salary earned by a Vice writer was a mere $45,000 per year — meaning that the $300,000 steak dinner paid for by CEO Shane Smith could have paid the salaries of seven of his writers for an entire year.
[Image: Jemal Countess/Getty Images]