Cathie Anderson

John Ascuaga will part with 18K Golden Rooster at upcoming auction

The John Ascuaga family will auction off the 18-karat Golden Rooster that once perched in the casino baron’s namesake hotel and casino at 1100 Nugget Ave. in Sparks for more than 50 years.

Weighing 206.3 troy ounces, the sculpture was twice confiscated by the U.S. Treasury Department which charged that it violated the Gold Reserve Act of 1934. The act made it illegal for any one individual to own more than 50 ounces of gold. unless it was an object of art. Fortunately for Ascuaga, a magistrate and a jury recognized the artistic value of the piece crafted by by Shreve & Co. of San Francisco and Newman’s Silver Shop in Reno.

The Bee’s longtime casino correspondent, Mel Shields, recalled the room where this objet d’art originally stood: “They used to have the Golden Rooster Room, which was a specialty fried chicken restaurants. They had other things, too, but the fried chicken was the big attraction.”

The new owners of John Ascuaga’s Nugget opened a Gilley’s country music dance hall in the space, serving barbecue. The Golden Rooster will go up for sale July 26 during the Coeur d’Alene Art Auction at the Peppermill Resort, 2707 S. Virginia St., in Reno. The auction has been described by The Wall Street Journal as “the nation’s biggest and most successful auction of Western art.” Learn more at