Kirk Kerkorian, Three-Time Owner of MGM, Dead at 98

The billionaire real estate developer and Hollywood mogul died Monday

Kirk Kerkorian, the billionaire investor and real estate developer who became a major figure in Hollywood by purchasing MGM on three different occasions, died Monday at age 98, MGM Resorts International has confirmed.

The son of an Armenian fruit merchant from Fresno, California, Kerkorian was renowned for a series of brilliant business moves. In the early 1960s, he famously bought 80 acres of property on the Las Vegas strip — the site of Caesars Palace casino.

In 1969, he branched into entertainment by buying MGM studios and opening the International Hotel in Vegas, where he hired Barbra Streisand and Elvis Presley as headliners.

In 1981, he added United Artists to his Hollywood portfolio — and then sold them both (and particularly their extensive film libraries) to Ted Turner in 1986 for $1.5 billion. Five months later, he bought back the MGM name, United Artists, and the MGM studio lot in Culver City.

Pathe Communications acquired MGM for $1.4 billion in 1990 — though Kerkorian retained the MGM name for his Vegas hotels and other enterprises.

In 1996, the same year that he made a failed bid to take over Chrysler, Kerkorian re-acquired MGM from the French bank Credit Lyonnais which had assumed control after Pathe defaulted on its loans.

He tried to reinvigorate the studio, acquiring Orion Pictures, the Samuel Goldwyn Company, Motion Picture Corporation of America, and PolyGram Filmed Entertainment’s library in 1997. In 2005, he sold off the studio for a third time to a Sony-led consortium.