Kirk Kerkorian, Casino Magnate, Dies at 98

The billionaire Kirk Kerkorian died in early June at his palatial home in Beverly Hills. The famed investor was 98 at the time his death. Born to a poor family, Kerkorian amassed billions through a variety of crazy schemes, but the majority of money came from investing in Las Vegas casinos. He bought and sold MGM three times, making millions each time.

Kirk KerkorianWell into his 80s, Kerkorian made an unsolicited, and successful, bid to take control of Mirage Resorts, the massive casino company owned by Stephen Wynn. Throughout his career, Kerkorian was famous for out-maneuvering other casino magnates like Wynn, Howard Hughes and Ted Turner. Despite being one of the richest casino magnates in Las Vegas, and, indeed, the world, Kirk Kerkorian preferred to stay out of the spotlight. Rather than revel in the glitz and glamour of the Las Vegas circuit, Kerkorian would rather have a quiet drink with his close buddies, like Cary Grant and Frank Sinatra. A battle for control of Las Vegas between Howard Hughes and Kirk Kerkorian left the latter seriously underfunded and forced to sell his stake in the Flamingo Hotel for less than a tenth of its value. Kerkorian bounced back in 1973 with the opening of the MGM Grand with more than 2000 rooms.

Struggling financially again, Kerkorian was forced to sell MGM Grand to Ted Turner for $1.5 billion. Later, when Turner was in dire straights, he sold MGM back to Kerkorian for $300 million. In 1990, Kerkorian sold MGM again, this time for $1.3 billion to Giancarlo Parretti. In 1996, Kerkorian bought MGM back for $1.3 billion, effectively making money on the deal because of inflation. Kirk Kerkorian was an avid blackjack and poker player and a wizard of investing in Las Vegas casinos.