Mogul Robert Sillerman Buys Into Opium Group, Looking at Other South Beach Clubs
Sillerman, who is in his mid-60s, grew up in the Riverdale section of the Bronx, according to a New York Magazine profile. As a kid he sold greeting cards door to door. He caught the "business bug" after his father declared bankruptcy when the boy was only 13. "When you're in your sixties and declare bankruptcy, it can be debilitating," Sillerman told New York, but [my father] never lost his optimism."
He majored in political science at Brandeis University in Boston, then rocketed through the business world. He bought radio stations as a young man, sold out to Westinghouse for $400 million in 1989, and started the first incarnation of SFX -- called SFX Broadcasting -- three years later, according to Bloomberg News.
He showed his acumen for politics by purchasing many more radio stations after the Telecommunications Act of 1996 allowed owners of multiple stations in single markets. In 2005, Forbes named him the 375th richest American, with a net worth of $975 million.
Since then, he has formed CKX, a company that bought 85 percent of Elvis Presley Enterprises, which included the King's music, likeness and even the estate at Graceland, as well as 100 percent of Simon Fuller's 19 Entertainment, producer of American Idol.
Sillerman started SFX Entertainment, a revival of his early company's name, in July 2011. One of the aims, he told the New York Times, was to "use the Internet to connect fans of dance music."
These days he owns a $6 million Southampton mansion with an indoor pool and basketball court and a private disco. He is also championship volleyball player. Musically, he calls himself a "child of the Sixties" and notes that two of his favorite artists, Paul Simon and Bob Dylan, personify that era.
This past summer, he bought Broadway producer Livent and announced his intention to spend $1 billion in a year on EDM for the new SFX. "There is a wave of interest in attending concerts that have less to do with the specific music and more to do with the experience attached to the music," he told the Times.
Several EDM blogs have leaked out the news of Sillerman's purchases over the last couple days. Talknightlife, an online forum that follows Miami nightlife rumors, broke the news on January 11 when it posted a notice that had been pasted outside Mokai on 23rd Street. It listed the company name as SFX-Mokai Operating LLC. Two days later, Talknightlife published a second notice with SFX's name outside Set, which is on Lincoln Road.
Another blog, Dancing Astronaut, headlined a January 15 post: "Robert Sillerman buys large stake in Miami's the Opium Group, EDM arms heats up."
News also broke this week that Sillerman has also purchased the North American division of Holland-based ID&T Entertainment, a company that produces over-the-top EDM events called Sensation White across Europe. ID&T also does Tomorrowland, a massive EDM festival held in Belgium each summer.
For the individual ticket buyer the consolidation of EDM could lead to less variety and higher prices.
"I think that for consumers it's not the greatest thing," said Aramis Lorie, partner at downtown club Grand Central. "It eliminates the competitive nature of the business."
Additional reporting by Kat Bein.