Legendary casino mogul Kirk Kerkorian was as a maverick, and was known for his wit, business acumen and larger-than-life appetites. That said, Kerkorian also had a reputation as a cuthroat, ruthless businessman who would brook no arguments, and he is known to have settled a number of legal cases against him over the years.
Kerkorian died on June 15th, 2015 at the age of 98 at his home in Beverly Hills.
More on Kirk Kerkorian
Kerkor Kerkorian was born in Fresno, California, on June 6, 1917, one of four children in an Armenian immigrant family. His mother was a homemaker; his father was a fruit seller whose failed business schemes often left the family in poverty
“We moved at least 20 times when I was a kid,” Kerkorian explained to Fortune magazine in 1969.”We often could not pay our rent and would get booted out.”
Kerkorian only made it through the eighth grade, leaving school to take odd jobs. He became lightweight boxer at age 19, winning 29 of 33 bouts, but gave it up in 1939 to take flying lessons and became a private pilot and flying instructor.
Kerkorian flew bomber planes across the Atlantic in the Second World War. In one of his first business enterprises, he purchased surplus military transport planes, refurbished them and then resold them. He used the profits to buy a air charter firm in Los Angeles in 1947.
He ended up flying a number of Hollywood entertainers into Las Vegas, which was turning into a well-known gambling hub at the time. Eventually he began joining the in crowd at the blackjack and dice tables, and he got a rep as a high roller. He met future wife Jean Maree Hardy in Vegas. They married in 1954 and had two daughters.
Kerkorian has two living daughters Tracy Kerkorian and Linda Kemper, as well as three grandchildren.
Kirk Kerkorian – Casino magnate
Kerkorian began his Las Vegas empire in 1969 when he managed to beat out the Bronfman family for control of MGM (Kerkorian actually bought and sold MGM on three separate occasions.). Meanwhile, he began to develop his Las Vegas acreage, breaking ground in 1968 for what would become the largest hotel and casino in the world.
The International Hotel opened in July 1969, and was the world’s largest gambling and resort hotel at the time. Kerkorian eventually sold it to the Hilton Corporation and it became the famous Las Vegas Hilton (closed in 2012). He then used the proceeds from the sale to build his dream hotel — the MGM Grand.
Kerkorian became the “King of Las Vegas” in February 2000 when his MGM Grand made an unsolicited offer to acquire Mirage Resorts. When Mirage Resorts agreed to be acquired by MGM Grand for $4.4 billion in cash Kerkorian was in control of five of the most glittering casino resorts on the Las Vegas Strip, as well as other casinos in Australia and the U.S.
Kirk Kerkorian also was known for making deals on his word. According to one story, in a negotiation of only eight minutes, Kerkorian agreed to sell the Treasure Island casino to Phil Ruffin for about $775 million, and sealed the deal with a handshake.