Hotel to be sold

Lake Tahoe’s Cal Neva Lodge appears likely to go through the latest in a nine-decade whirl of ownership changes. Published reports say billionaire Larry Ellison—named by Forbes as the world’s seventh richest man—is likely to purchase the Lodge.

Ellison won the right to make the purchase by default when no other buyer came forward. A federal bankruptcy judge gave the OK for a sale.

The hotel is noted for a line representing the Nevada/California border painted on the floor of the swimming pool. On June 10, 1980 when the U.S. Supreme Court rejected California’s effort to move the state line, the National Association of Attorneys General happened to be meeting in convention at the hotel, providing reporters with a ready-made story.

Built in 1926, the hotel was a case of life imitating art. A long-running 1918 Broadway play, Lightning, had told the tale of a Lake Tahoe hotel that straddled the Nevada/California state line, allowing guests to establish residence for a Nevada divorce while using a California return address in writing to the folks back home.

The property went through numerous owners over the years, including part owner Frank Sinatra, who briefly invested while the hotel was held by an investment group headed by Bert Grober. Sinatra added a showroom and once held a notable party for the cast of The Misfits, a movie then being filmed in western Nevada starring Marilyn Monroe, Clark Gable, Eli Wallach and Thelma Ritter. Sinatra was forced to surrender his gambling license and sell his interest in the club after he entertained an organized crime figure at the hotel and cursed a state agent who was trying to investigate the incident.

In recent years, the hotel has continued bouncing from one owner or entity to another, and the hotel has been promoted with folk tales of dubious accuracy on its history.

While the Sinatra period got attention, the property has long been troubled, with debtor committees, needed repairs, disputes with casino regulators, and management changes.