Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Glamorous Life and Grisly Death of Ben Novack Jr.

Growing up at the Fontainebleau

As during the Sans Souci-era, the Novacks lived at the hotel, in the Governor's Suite, a 15th-floor apartment in the Chateau building. Though, writes, Gaines, it was a beautiful space with amazing panoramic view — one featured in the original Ocean's 11 — Bernice never felt at home there and frequently pressed for a different residence. Young Ben, who was born a year after the hotel opened, soon was garnering a reputation for being difficult, and drove the hotel staff crazy. Wrote Gaines: "He was in everybody's hair," Lenore Toby, the Fontainebleau's ex-publicist, told the author. "We used to call him Benjy because he was a little tyrant and he hated it. He had no discipline whatsoever, and his supervisors were the security guards in the hotel. They brought him up, and as a result that's what he wanted to be, a security guard."

The Fontainebleau Hotel
The Fontainebleau Hotel

Gaines interviewed the younger Novack when he was still alive, who admitted, "I never had a childhood. I was always among adults."

Novack described a strange, isolated childhood where birthday parties were canned and forced affairs because he didn't have a lot of friends and where meals were often made by the hotel's kitchen staff. The isolated childhood was made even stranger by his wealth.

His wealth had always made him a target: even as a child, he had been the subject of kidnapping threats.


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