Kerkorian is an American business, with Armenian roots. His name is well respected and his example is worthy to be followed in terms of a career. The billionaire is one of the most important figures in Las Vegas. President of Tracinda Corporation, the businessman is known to be the ‚father of mega-resort’. He owns the MGM Resort International network of hotels, casinos and residential complexes and his wealth comes from cars, hotels and gambling.
His real name is Kerkor ‚Kirk’ Kerkorian and he turned the venerable age of 91. He was born on June 6, 1917 in Fresno, California, to Armenian immigrant parents. Dropped out of school to take on boxing. He learnt English while wandering the streets. He joined the Royal Air Force in the WWII and the money he was given helped him start a real estate business. The first money he made in the 60’s, $104 millions, was from selling the Trans International Airlines that he had purchased in 1947 for only $60,000.
Later, he started making invesments in Las Vegas and bought the Flamingo Hotel in 1967 to build the International Hotel two years later. In 1993, Kerkorian started the MGM Grand media company and then he sold his own movie backlots for $5 millions. Kirk was a shareholder for Daimler-Chrysler and, for the recent years, he has singled himself out by his investment activity in the giant General Motors. Tracinda, Kerkorian’s investment group, has sold 14 millions of shares of GM. After that, the businessman decided to try his hand in Las Vegas. Right after the sale of GM shares, Tracinda increased its stake in MGM Mirage, a company holding 10 hotel-casinos and a share of 30% of the gambling market in Las Vegas.
Married three times
Kirk Kerkonian has been married three times – to Hilda Schmidt, 1942-1951, Jean Maree Harbour-Hardy, 1954-1984 and Lisa Bouder, a tennis player, 48 his junior, 1998- 1999.
From the marriage with the second wife, a British dancer and coreographer, Kirk has two girls, Tracy and Linda. Currently, he is engaged to the 59-year old Joan Dangerfield.
Crazy for extravagant sport clothing
A sport lover, Kirk Kerkonian has always made time to play tennis with Alex Yemenidjan, co-owner of the Tropicana resort in Las Vegas. The billionaire has a penchant for wearing expensive clothes on the field, created by the Italian designer Brioni. Even though his bank account is substantial, he drives rather low cost cars, such as Pontiac Firebird, Jeep Grand Cherokee and Ford Taurus. He splits his time between his residences in Beverly Hills and Las Vegas.
Hates the spotlight
The American magnate very much dislikes giving interviews and seldom appears in public. His charities are sizeable, but he has never allowed to have anything named in his honor. Last February, he donated $200 millions to the UCLA University, through The Lincy Foundation. In 2001, he was awarded the Meshrob Mashdots Medal from the Republic of Armenia in recognition for his services to Armenia and its people.
A billionaire hit by recession
In 2008, according to the American magazine ‚Forbes’, his net worth was $16 billions, making him the 41st richest person in the world. In 2011, though, the magnate was hard hit by the financial downturn, his fortune tumbled down to $3.2 billions and had him fall to the 310th position in the list of the richest people.