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Wayne Newton’s yacht sinks at Lake Mead marina

Mr. Las Vegas’ yacht sleeps with the fishes.

A 65-foot luxury houseboat belonging to Wayne Newton filled with water and sank Friday morning at a marina on the Arizona side of Lake Mead.

No one was on board the boat named Rendezvous when it went down stern-first in about 45 feet of water, leaving the bow sticking straight up out of the water in a covered slip at Temple Bar Marina.

A salvage crew is expected to raise the yacht later this week. Investigators will try to determine what went wrong.

Christie Vanover, spokeswoman for Lake Mead National Recreation Area, said preliminary indications point to “equipment failure” but the National Park Service will check the boat for signs of “foul play.”

Vanover said a marina employee noticed something wrong with the boat about 9 a.m. Friday. It sank 20 minutes later.

No one was injured in the incident.

On Monday Newton’s sister-in-law and publicist, Tricia McCrone, said the longtime Las Vegas entertainer and his wife, Kathleen, are on vacation in Bora Bora but “he wants to find out what happened, obviously.”

McCrone said the boat was in “pristine condition” and had been “impeccably decorated by Mrs. Newton.”

She said Newton bought the 60-ton yacht — a 1996 Skipperliner, with four levels, a 10-foot swimming platform and multiple berths — five or six years ago. He used to go out on it every weekend in the summer, she said.

“It’s a gorgeous boat, just gorgeous,” McCrone said. “It’s heartbreaking.”

So far, Vanover said, there no signs of fuel or other contaminants leaking from the sunken yacht.

She said the vessel has been on Lake Mead for years. It had been kept in a covered slip at the northern tip of Lake Mead until 2006, when the Overton Beach Marina was forced to move to deeper water. About half of that marina’s docks and slips ended up at Temple Bar, the other half at Callville Bay Marina.

Vanover couldn’t remember the last time such a large boat sank in Lake Mead.

“It’s infrequent,” she said.

It was the latest setback for the 71-year-old Newton, who hasn’t had much reason to sing “Danke Schoen” lately.

In June, he had to move out of Casa de Shenandoah, his home since 1968, after a long and ugly legal fight over plans to turn the 38-acre estate at the corner of Sunset and Pecos roads into a tourist attraction.

In recent years, he’s been slapped with lawsuits accusing him of failing to pay his bills for everything from a Cadillac to $32,384 worth of hay for his horses.

A dispute over unpaid parking fees at a Michigan airport eventually led to Newton’s private jet being disassembled, transported and reassembled at his Las Vegas estate.

In 1992, Newton filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy after accumulating an estimated $20 million in debts, including the cost of a lengthy libel lawsuit he brought against NBC for reports in the early 1980s linking him to organized crime.

In August 2005, the Internal Revenue Service went after him, alleging that he and his wife owed more than $1.8 million in taxes and penalties.

Of course, things could have been worse for the Midnight Idol. At least he had a yacht to sink.

Contact reporter Henry Brean at hbrean@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0350. He is on Twitter at @RefriedBrean.

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