Sheldon Aldeson

DEFINITION of 'Sheldon Aldeson'

Sheldon Aldeson, chairman and CEO of Las Vegas Sands Corp. (LVS), is the world’s 22nd-wealthiest person as of May 16, 2016, according to Forbes, with an estimated net worth of $26.1 billion (down from $37.9 billion in 2014). He was born in 1933 to Sarah (née Tonkin) Adelson, who ran a knitting shop, and Arthur Adelson, who drove a taxi. The family lived in a one-bedroom apartment in Dorchester, Boston during. Adelson's first job was selling newspapers, and his first business was selling toiletries.

BREAKING DOWN 'Sheldon Aldeson'

Aldeson enrolled at City College in New York and studied corporate finance, but dropped out before earning a degree. He joined the Army and worked on Wall Street, where he began to grow his fortune though mortgage banking and investment advising. He also worked in the travel industry as an investor in the American International Travel Service, then became a real estate broker.

He founded computer trade show Comdex in 1979, which he sold in 1995, and the money he made from it allowed him to start investing in casinos. He purchased the Las Vegas Sands casino in 1988 with his business partners at a bargain price of $128 million, then went solo and demolished it in 1996 to replace it with the Venetian Resort Hotel Casino and the Sands Expo and Convention Center, which opened in 1999. In 2004, he took his company public.

Aldeson opened the Marina Bay Sands hotel and casino in Singapore in 2005, which is known for its SkyPark that sits atop three skyscrapers and contains an infinity pool, restaurants, bars and an observation deck. The Chinese government began allowing him to do business in Macau in 2003 and he opened the Sands Macau in 2010. He quickly became dependent on the island for revenue, and President Xi Jinping's crackdown on corruption, which began to hammer Macau's gambling revenues in  2013, sent Las Vegas Sands' shares down by nearly half over 2014 and 2015.

The self-made multi-billionaire has donated millions to charity, including to the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces, Birthright Israel, and the Yad Vashem Holocaust Martyr's and Heroes' Remembrance Authority. He has also set up the Adelson Educational Campus, which built a high school in Las Vegas; and the Boston-based Dr. Miriam and Sheldon G. Adelson Medical Research Foundation, which funds medical research. 

Following his decision to leave the Democrats, which he explained in a 2012 Wall Street Journal op-ed, Adelson has been a major political supporter of Republican candidates, including George W. Bush, Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney. He met with several Republican candidates during the 2016 Republican primary, but lent his support to Ted Cruz, who dropped out of the race in early May of that year. On May 13, the New York Times reported in that Adelson may donate over $100 million to Trump's campaign. Adelson has reportedly called the safety of Israel his top political priority. 

Adelson owns Israel Hayom, a free Hebrew- and English-language daily based in Tel Aviv. The paper is considered to be sympathetic to the right-leaning Likud Party and is popularly known as "Bibiton," or Likud Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu's (Bibi) newspaper (iton). Adelson also owns the Las Vegas Review-Journal, another daily.