Las Vegas billionaire Kirk Kerkorian has died in Los Angeles at the age of 98.
The veteran businessman, who was the son of Armenian immigrants, was the largest shareholder in MGM Resorts International, which owns the MGM Grand and Bellagio hotels in Las Vegas.
Kirk Kerkorian was well known for buying and then selling the MGM film studio three times, making a profit each time.
He was reported to have died on Monday night, June 15, but no cause of death has been given.
MGM Resorts said in a statement: “Mr. Kerkorian was a quiet but powerful force behind the transformation of the Las Vegas Strip into one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations.”
A school dropout at 16, Kirk Kerkorian became a boxer and later flew dangerous missions delivering warplanes from Canada to Britain during World War II.
Kirk Kerkorian carried on flying after the war and opened a charter flight business ferrying gamblers who wanted to get from Los Angeles to Las Vegas more quickly than by driving.
He began buying property in Las Vegas in 1962 after selling his charter airline, which he later re-purchased.
Kirk Kerkorian was also a player in the automobile industry, losing a battle for control of Chrysler in the 1990s before taking stakes in General Motors and Ford in the 2000s.
In May 2015, Forbes magazine estimated Kirk Kerkorian’s wealth at $4.2 billion after taking a hit on his investments during the financial crisis in 2008, when the magazine said he was worth $16 billion.
In a MGM statement, CEO Jim Murren said of Kirk Kerkorian: “MGM Resorts and our family of 62,000 employees are honoring the memory of a great man, a great business leader, a great community leader, an innovator, and one of our country’s greatest generation.”
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