Kirk Kerkorian, casino tycoon, movie mogul, auto investor dies at 98

Reuters News
Posted: Jun 16, 2015 11:30 AM

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Kirk Kerkorian, the son of poor Armenian immigrants who used his gambler's instincts to became a multibillionaire Las Vegas casino tycoon, Hollywood mogul, airline owner and auto industry investor, died at age 98, CNBC reported on Tuesday.

Kerkorian had little formal education and dropped out of school at age 16.

In his youth he was known as "Rifle Right Kerkorian" for his punching power as a small-time boxer and he would become an enduring American business heavyweight with a knack for placing winning bets in the corporate world.

In May, Forbes magazine estimated Kerkorian's wealth at $4.2 billion after taking a hit on his investments in 2008, when the magazine said he was worth $16 billion.

Three different times - in 1969, 1973 and 1993 - Kerkorian built the world's biggest hotel in Las Vegas, the desert gambling capital where he first made his fortune in the 1950s and 1960s. On his way to becoming a casino magnate, he befriended Rat Pack stars Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and other Las Vegas headliners.

He owned some of the biggest and best-known hotels and casinos in Las Vegas - at one time possessing more than half the hotel rooms on the famous Las Vegas strip. He also was instrumental in turning Las Vegas into a family destination rather than merely a naughty pleasure spot for adults.

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Kerkorian bought and sold the venerable MGM film studio three times, acquired the United Artists studio and tried to buy Columbia Pictures.

(Editing by Jonathan Oatis)