A private equity gamble in Vegas gone wrong

Fortune

There have been so many truly extraordinary twists and turns in the saga of Caesars Entertainment [fortune-stock symbol=”CZR”] over the past eight years that it’s hard to pinpoint exactly when the whole thing went off the rails. After all, an $18.4 billion bankruptcy filing at one of the biggest gambling empires in Las Vegas tends to result in a lot of finger-pointing. But for symbolism alone, nothing can beat the evening of Nov. 17, 2012.

That was the night that David Bonderman, the billionaire founder of private equity firm TPG Capital, threw himself a 70th birthday party. It made sense for Bonderman to have it in Vegas. He and his wife had planned a lavish celebration with 1,000 of their closest friends. Actor and comedian Robin Williams would serve as the emcee, with music legends Paul McCartney and John Fogerty rocking out. Bonderman had also agreed to make a $1,000…

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