Kirk Kerkorian Net Worth & Biography

Popular Name: Kirk Kerkorian
Real Name: Kerkor Kerkorian
Birth Date: June 6, 1917
Birth Place: Fresno, California, United States
Age: Died on June 15, 2015 (aged 98)
Gender: Male
Nationality/Citizenship: American, Armenian
Height: N/A
Weight: N/A
Sexuality: Straight
Marital Status: Divorced
Spouse(s): Hilda Schmidt ​(m. 1942⁠–⁠1951)​
Jean Maree Harbour-Hardy (1954–1984)
Lisa Bonder ​(m. 1999⁠–⁠1999)
Children: 2
Profession: Businessman, Entrepreneur, Philanthropist
Years active: N/A
Net Worth: $4.2 Billion
Last Updated: 2022

The article below details the biography and lifetime of Kirk Kerkorian, an Armenian-American businessman, investor, and philanthropist who is remembered as one of the influential persons who shaped Las Vegas. Born and brought up in Fresno, California, Kirk was a boxer in his early days. He learned to fly during the Second World War instead of joining the infantry and served in the Royal Air Force command. He later bought a single-engine Cessna plane and provided flying services to gamblers from Los Angeles to Las Vegas. After a few years, he acquired 82 acres in Las Vegas and built the International Hotel which was the largest hotel in the world at the time. Kirk’s business grew over the next couple of years, and he became a leading businessman in the United States. Furthermore, was also a renowned philanthropist who, through his Lincy Foundation, provided more than $1 billion for charity in Armenia during his time alive.

Early Life: Childhood, Education

He was born Kerkor Kerkorian on 6 June 1917 in California, United States. His parents immigrated from Armenian. He had two siblings, a younger sister named Rose Kerkorian, and an older brother whose name was Nishon Kerkorian.

Kirk’s first language was Armenian and he learned to speak English as he grew up. His family moved to Los Angeles in 1921. He dropped out of school as a young teenager and trained himself in boxing, and eventually became a skilled amateur boxer who won the Pacific amateur welterweight championship under the name ‘Rifle Right Kerkorian’.

Professional Life: Business Career

During the Second World War, Kirk Kerkorian served as a civilian employee for Britain’s Royal Air Force. He flew bombers from Canada to Scotland, earning around $1000 per flight from this venture which he described as highly profitable but very risky.

In 1945, he acquired a single-engine plane for $5000 and started giving flying instructions alongside operating an occasional charter service. He mainly flew gamblers between Las Vegas and Los Angeles. Later, he also acquired a small charter airline known as Los Angeles Air Service. He renamed it Trans International Airlines and soon became the first entrepreneur to provide charter jet services. Kerkorian continued to operate the airline business until 1968 when he decided to sell it to the Transamerica Corporation for the sum of $104 million.

He also bought land in Paradise Road, and along with architect Martin Stern, he constructed the International Hotel. In addition to that, he also acquired the Flamingo Hotel but eventually sold it as well as his International Hotel to the Hilton Hotels.

Mr. Kirk later purchased the Metro Goldwyn Mayer movie studio and opened the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas in 1973. Unfortunately, this hotel, which was the world’s largest hotel at that time, caught a fire that resulted in more than 60 casualties in 1960. Six years later, he sold his MGM Grand Hotels for $594 million.

In 1990, Kerkorian became involved with the Chrysler Corporation and helped increase the company’s stock value through a variety of maneuvers. Though he attempted a hostile takeover of Chrysler along with former chairman Lee Iacocca in 1994, he was unsuccessful. However, he made billions of dollars in profits from stock buybacks from the company.

In 2005, he invested in General Motors by acquiring a 9.9 percent stake in the company. Three years afterward he started buying Ford Motor Company shares and acquired a 6 percent stake, for which he spent nearly a billion.

Achievements: Awards & Honors

In 2008, Kirk Kerkorian was named by Forbes magazine as the 41st richest person in the world. He helped rebuild northern Armenia following the disastrous earthquake of 1988 earthquake. For this genuine intervention, the government of Armenia bestowed him with the title of National Hero of Armenia in 2004. This is their highest state award. He was declared an honorary citizen of Armenia in 1998, and in 2017, Armenia issued a Kirk Kerkorian stamp. In 2018, the city of Gyumri unveiled a statue of Kirk Kerkorian in appreciation of his good deeds.

Personal Life: Marriages, Wife, Children, Private Interests, Philanthropy

Kirk Kerkorian was married three times during his lifetime. His first marriage was in 1942 to Hilda Schmidt. They separated in 1952. Two years later, he married his next wife, Jean Maree Hardy, and had two daughters named Tracy and Linda before divorcing her in 1984. Kirk got married to professional tennis player Lisa Bonder for his third marriage which was quite short-lived.

He lived a long life and prosperous life and died of natural causes on June 15, 2015, aged 98.

Besides his business ventures, Kirk was also deeply involved in philanthropy. He founded the Lincy Foundation, which drew its name from the names of Kirk’s daughters Linda and Tracy. To this day, the foundation has donated more than a billion dollars to various charities. However, Kirk himself never allowed any of the foundation’s donations to be named in his honor. The organization was dissolved in 2011.

Kirk Kerkorian Net Worth: Salary, Income Sources, Real Estate

Mr. Kirk Kerkorian’s net worth was roughly $4.2 billion at the time of his passing. He is considered one of the grandfathers of Las Vegas and was a well-respected entrepreneur within the United States.

He made his wealth from numerous investments in the hotel industry, as well as from trading shares in several leading American businesses, including General Motors, Chrysler Corporation, and his Beverly Hills-based private holding company, Tracinda Corporation, which he led as president and chief executive officer. Along with architect, Martin Stern, Jr., Kerkor Kerkorian is regarded as one of the “fathers of the megaresort”. Most of his multi-billion dollar estate was left to charity.

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