Sam Cohen and a group of Miami investors with mob ties developed and built the Riviera, an architectural departure for the Strip at the time with its five-story, white Miami modern façade.
It opened in 1955 with Liberace as the headliner, who was paid the highest salary in Strip history. Within three months, the Riviera went bankrupt and was taken over by a new set of owners and operators.
Since then, the Riviera has shown great resiliency and has undergone continuous expansion, renovation, and re-theming, much of it the work of Martin Stern. All of the buildings, including the original, still stand and are incorporated into the current sprawling facility.