Whether as the plot of a Hollywood film, or as a piece of local news content with uplifting attributes, we are all inevitability drawn to rags to riches stories. They remind us that one day a person can be driftless, and the very next they can be anchored to one of the most ambitious hotel renovations in modern memory. Such is the case for the creative director of the Palms Casino Resort, Tal Cooperman, who spent many nights sleeping in his car, before reshaping the hotel narrative using his years as a graffiti writer and his knack for connecting people.

"It looked like Gotham City," Cooperman cracks of the aesthetics of the Palms before the renovations began. "We had a Hooters. There was a Hooters in here!"

The idea was rather simple; transform the hotel. While on paper that seems rather straightforward, the execution wasn't so easy. Cooperman and his team had to orchestrate a delicate dance between the hundreds of workers pounding away on a daily basis, and the hotel guests who thought their $80 a night rate was simply a "right time, right place" kind of deal.

"Imagine going to our check in and listening to somebody, 'I didn't sign up for this. I never knew I was going to be woken up at 6:00 in the morning by hammers, and tractors, and cranes, and people screaming on my floor,'" Cooperman says.

Conceptually, there was at least a starting point. Palms owners, Frank Fertitta III and Lorenzo Fertitta, were established art collectors. The plan was to build out a small bar experience that centered on a work they owned from Damien Hirst; The Unknown (Explored, Explained, Exploded) from 1999 which showcases a 13-foot tiger shark that sits in three segments of steel and glass tanks and preserved in formaldehyde.

As Cooperman listened, he heard about their interest in other contemporary artists like RETNA and REVOK. When the Fertittas asked if he was aware of their work, Cooperman thought it was a joke. To the Palms owners, they were contemporary masters. For Cooperman, they were some of his best friends in the entire world.

"They're like, 'What?' I was like, 'Look, guys, if you want to talk about this type of art, I have my master's in it. [I'm] blue chip when it comes to the street art community, I have literally been raised by the most cultured guys in this camp.'"

Clint Jenkins

Whereas it's hard to imagine a place like Las Vegas — steeped in a tradition that went from wise guys to Mickey Mouse — ever accepting the legitimacy of graffiti, Cooperman went to work outlining how the 850-room property (small compared to other venues that hold at least 3,000) would look with art from various mediums informing the narrative. From something as minuscule as a piece of tile in a steakhouse to what would eventually become the most expensive hotel suite in the world, The Palms opted to go for a form of extravagance that felt in stark contrast to what others had succeeded with.

But of course, the average joe is never going to be able to spend a night in Hirst's $100,000 Empathy Suite and be able to interact with the shark, the butterflies in the massage room, the drug paraphernalia encased under the bar, and the other pieces of art which collectively are estimated to be worth $10 million.

Cooperman rightfully agrees and doesn't try to put an artful spin on the price tag. Instead, he says that the nightly rate is actually much lower than what Palms executives initially wanted to charge. They are going after a specific person. Whereas in a gambling context they might refer to this person as a "whale," Cooperman says that the Empathy Suite has been created for a new form of high-roller whose sense of culture extends beyond what is in his wallet.

"In my head, I'm like I want everyone to see this room, right?" Cooperman says. "I don't want them to see just photos. For me, the right person is going to see that room with that number. It has to be that number. It can't be any lower because I want to scare all the people that are going to just take advantage of that room and turn it upside down, because that's how Vegas is believe it or not. Some people just don't care. Money doesn't even mean anything to them. $100 grand a night, that kind of scares you. It definitely gets you. When I say 'scare,' I'm more saying we're trying to get the right person to actually want to enjoy that room and actually live in a museum for two nights, because you're never going to get as close to Damien's work or especially that amount of work as at our hotel."

Imitation is the highest form of flattery. Cooperman acknowledges that people from other properties have been keeping close watch on what The Palms has been doing. One can't help but think that a KAWS-themed room or a Takashi Murakami suite is not out of the realm of possibility. But for Cooperman, being able to accomplish the over-the-top extravagance of the Empathy Suite — while also working with lesser known artists on smaller elements that appear inside "regular rooms" — suggests a genuine warmth you rarely get in Las Vegas.

We Recommend
  • Image on Highsnobiety
    Coco Gauff Is the Teen Titan Electrifying the Tennis World
    • Culture
  • Image on Highsnobiety
    How HOKA Unintentionally Infiltrated Fashion
    • Sneakers
  • Image on Highsnobiety
    TikToker Noen Eubanks Is the Face of Gen Z Beauty
    • Beauty
  • Image on Highsnobiety
    The Guiding Light of Angus Cloud
    • Culture
  • Image on Highsnobiety
    The Next Generation of Entertainers Is Fighting for Its Future
    • Culture
  • Image on Highsnobiety
What To Read Next
  • Trending TIk Tok Songs Highsnobiety
    TikTok Songs We Can't Get Out Of Our Heads
    • Culture
  • Goldwin & Baracuta have collaborated for Fall/Winter 2023.
    Goldwin Lends Baracuta Its GORE-TEX
    • Style
  • Dior has revealed its all new B57 sneaker.
    Hey Dior, Nike Wants Its Dunk Back!
    • Sneakers
  • nocta nike run
    Don't Walk, Run in NOCTA's Running Gear
    • Style
  • Image on Highsnobiety
    Louis Vuitton SS24 Will Be Talked About for Years to Come
    • Style
  • Pharrell Williams is seen outside Sacai fashion show during the Womenswear Spring/Summer 2024 as part of Paris Fashion Week.
    Only Pharrell Could Pull Off a Double Denim Suit
    • Style
*If you submitted your e-mail address and placed an order, we may use your e-mail address to inform you regularly about similar products without prior explicit consent. You can object to the use of your e-mail address for this purpose at any time without incurring any costs other than the transmission costs according to the basic tariffs. Each newsletter contains an unsubscribe link. Alternatively, you can object to receiving the newsletter at any time by sending an e-mail to info@highsnobiety.com

Web Accessibility Statement

Titelmedia (Highsnobiety), is committed to facilitating and improving the accessibility and usability of its Website, www.highsnobiety.com. Titelmedia strives to ensure that its Website services and content are accessible to persons with disabilities including users of screen reader technology. To accomplish this, Titelmedia has engaged UsableNet Inc, a leading web accessibility consultant to help test, remediate and maintain our Website in-line with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), which also bring the Website into conformance with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.


Please be aware that our efforts to maintain accessibility and usability are ongoing. While we strive to make the Website as accessible as possible some issues can be encountered by different assistive technology as the range of assistive technology is wide and varied.

Contact Us

If, at any time, you have specific questions or concerns about the accessibility of any particular webpage on this Website, please contact us at accessibility@highsnobiety.com, +49 (0)30 235 908 500. If you do encounter an accessibility issue, please be sure to specify the web page and nature of the issue in your email and/or phone call, and we will make all reasonable efforts to make that page or the information contained therein accessible for you.