Life had been good to Bruce Deifik.

A humble childhood led Deifik to Texas A&M University, where he graduated with a business and finance management degree in 1977. The Colorado native dabbled in the business and development world following his graduation, but started to make a name for himself in 1990 when he formed a development company to buy and sell commercial properties.

Among his early acquisitions was the Hyatt Grand Champion Resort in Palm Springs, California. He showed an early knack for hospitality properties. He founded a company that at one time held more than 300 vacation destinations in 30 countries. In 2006, Deifik joined with the American Nevada company and got a taste of the gaming industry.  As he amassed his personal fortune, Deifik and his wife, Nancy, contributed millions to various charities. With ownership stakes in two successful Nevada casinos, he saw a great opportunity in Atlantic City.

Deifik jumped at the chance to buy the former Revel Casino for pennies on the dollar in 2018. He thought it was a steal, and had big plans for the property. He charmed local politicians and gaming regulators, was chatty with reporters, and his new Ocean resort was seen as the cornerstone of a rebuilding effort for Atlantic City after five casinos closed between 2014 and 2016.

Almost from the start, what some have called the “Revel Curse” began to creep in (I detail more of the history of the doomed property here). Facing immediate competition from the new Hard Rock Casino, Deifik’s Ocean Resort hemorrhaged money from the start, and never showed a profit. Shortly after he bought the former Revel, robbers busted into the Presidential Suite where he and his wife stayed, making off with more than a million dollars of jewelry.

Earlier this year, with Ocean Resort facing bankruptcy, Deifik threw in the towel and agreed to sell his stake in the property to his prime lender. After losing more than $17 million on Ocean Resort in just six months of ownership, he retreated back to his native Denver.

On Sunday came word that Deifik was dead. Police say he was on his way home from a Colorado Rockies baseball game and was involved in a “single car, low-speed crash,” according to an Associated Press report. The medical examiner has not yet released a cause of death. Deifik’s lawyer suggested he may have suffered a “medical episode” behind the wheel. His sale of Ocean Resort is not yet finalized, but is being overseen by a trustee that could complete the transaction in the next few weeks.

A spokeswoman for Ocean Resort issued a statement saying the resort staff was saddened to hear of Deifik’s death, and thanked him for “the vision to reopen this beautiful oceanfront property.”

There is no way of knowing what killed Deifik’s from the information released so far, but his death will add to the lore of the property being cursed.

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