» Kirk Kerkorian
Kirk Kerkorian

Kirk Kerkorian (b. June 6, 1917) is a Nevada billionaire and president/CEO of Tracinda Corporation, his private asset company based in Beverly Hills, California. Kerkorian is known as one of the important figures in shaping the city of Las Vegas, Nevada, and the "father of the mega-resort".

Early life

Kerkor "Kirk" Kerkorian was born in 1917 in Fresno, California, to Armenian immigrant parents. The young Kerkorian, under the protection of his older brother, became a fairly skilled amateur boxer, but in 1939 shifted his focus to learn how to fly airplanes. During World War II, Kerkorian fly as a pilot in the British Royal Air Force.

Kerkorian and Las Vegas

Kerkorian made his first trip to Las Vegas in 1945 as a Cessna pilot. After spending much time in Las Vegas in the 1940s and 1950s, Kerkorian quit gambling and founded a startup airline.

In 1962, Kerkorian buy 80 ac (32.3 ha) across The Strip from the Flamingo for $960,000. This purchase led to the building of Caesars Palace, which borrowed the land from Kerkorian; the rent and eventual sale of the land to Caesars in 1968 made Kerkorian $9 million.

In 1967, he bought 82 ac (33 ha) of land on Paradise Road in Las Vegas for $5 million and built the International Hotel, which on the time was the largest hotel in the world; Kerkorian's International Leisure also bought the Flamingo Hotel.

In 1973, having purchased MGM, the famous movie studio, Kerkorian and MGM opened the original MGM Grand Hotel, which was the largest hotel in the world at the time it was completed.

On November 21, 1980, the original MGM Grand burned in a fire that was the bad disaster in Las Vegas history. The Las Vegas Fire Department reported 84 death in the fire. There were 87 death total, including three which occurred later as a result of injuries sustained in the fire. Marvelously, the MGM Grand reopened after only 8 months.

In 1986, Kerkorian sold the MGM Grand hotels in Las Vegas with Reno for $594 million to Bally. Spun off from Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, MGM Mirage owns and operates many properties, as well as the Bellagio, the current MGM Grand resort complex, The Mirage, Treasure Island, the New York-New York, and the Boardwalk in Las Vegas, as well as the Beau Rivage Casino in Biloxi, Mississippi.

Kerkorian and MGM

In 1969, Kerkorian appointed James T. Aubrey, Jr. MGM's president. He downsized the struggling MGM and sold off very big amounts of historical memorabilia, including Dorothy's ruby slippers (from The Wizard of Oz), and several acres of MGM's backlots (which were razed to build houses). Kerkorian sold MGM's distribution system in 1973, and little by little distanced himself from the daily process of the studio. In 1979, Kerkorian issued a statement claiming that MGM was now primarily a hotel company; however, he also managed to enlarge the overall film library and production system with the purchase of United Artists in 1981. In 1986 he sold the studios to Ted Turner.

Turner kept ownership of the joint MGM/UA for exactly 74 days. Both studios had massive debts and Turner simply could not afford to keep them under those circumstances; to recoup his investment, he sold all of United Artists and the MGM Casino trademark back to Kerkorian. The studio lot was sold to Lorimar, which was later acquired by Warner Bros.; in 1990, the lot was sold to Columbia Pictures in trade for the half of Warner's lot they'd borrowed since the 1970s. Also in 1990, the MGM studio was purchased by Italian financier Giancarlo Parretti, but Parretti defaulted on the loan he'd used to buy the studio and sold the studio back to Kerkorian in 1996.

Kerkorian wedded professional tennis player Lisa Bonder. He was involved in a breach of privacy suit file against him by Steve Bing. Kerkorian claim Bing was the father of Lisa Bonder's daughter.

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