Just when you thought we had enough of all the Wall Street type corruption, embezzlement, conflict of interest, and outrageous salaries - we hear of another case which is causing the demise of the famed Liberace Museum in Las Vegas. Las Vegas has a bad reputation for not preserving its history - way too many historic buildings in this town get ‘blown up’ to make room for newer, more modern resorts. But, that is not the case in this sad story. Famed iconic Las Vegas entertainer Liberace made arrangements for a museum to preserve and exhibit his legacy for future generations. However, with the current scandalous allegations of gross mismanagement, incompetence, and conflict of interest between several individuals involved within the operation of the museum and the Liberace Foundation - namely Jeff Koep, Jack Rappaport, and R. Darin Hollingsworth - the museum is scheduled to close their doors on October 17, 2010. For further in-depth reporting on this controversial story by the Las Vegas Sun Newspaper – check out http://www.lasvegassun.com and search ‘Liberace’. Or, just Google ‘Liberace Museum Closing’ and see how this scandal is being reported by NPR, MSNBC, AOL and many other National news services.
Today was a picket/protest on the sidewalk in front of the Liberace Plaza to raise awareness for the this whole situation and to lobby for criminal and civil investigations into the actions of those three individuals listed above.
I have been involved in the past with several non-profit organizations as both a volunteer and paid staff member. When one dedicates themself to the service of a non-profit organization - either as a non-paid volunteer or paid staff member - one has to hold themself to a higher standard of business professionalism, ethics, and character. Non-profit management is geared toward serving individuals and the community within the realm of an agency’s scope. You are trusted with people’s time and money and you are suppose to be honorable stewards of those resources to foster and enhance your agency’s mission.
As additional reports and more people are coming forward to expose the truth behind this mess at the museum, we see that a few individuals who were entrusted with the preservation and growth of this organization, were really only lining their own pockets with outrageous salaries, conflict of interest between themselves, and lack of any outside accountability. SHAME on all of them!
As we take a look over entertainment history, we see that Liberace paved the way for performers such as Madonna, Michael Jackson, Adam Lambert, Lady Gaga, and even most recently - Prince Poppycock. Reports say that it was Liberace who mentored Elvis on his stage presence and suggested he adopt his iconic flashy sequined jumpsuits. Hell, I even have two different sequined vests that I wear when performing my comedy stage hypnosis shows which I had bought from the gift shop inside the Liberace Museum. http://www.hpnotix.com
It is sad to report this story because it affects so many people here in Las Vegas - the museum and Liberace himself are so entrenched in the history of Las Vegas. It is also sad, because this is just another example of how Wall Street and Fortune 500 corporate greed has filtered its way down into local non-proft organizations. This really hits home for me too with the upcoming release of my new book Branding Your Character. In it, I examine how one develops positive character traits and brands themself as an upstanding person with character to foster postive change for themself, their family, and the community. In the book I ask this question, “Do you want your personal character recognition to have a positive brand image like Tylenol which helps millions of people per day, or do you want a negative brand image like Mr. Madoff as a scamming criminal?” This story just goes to show that certain individuals connected with the management of the museum and foundation have no worthwhile sense of character and fit into the negative brand image just like Bernie Madoff!