Timeline: Kirk Kerkorian’s long career of bold investments


Kirk Kerkorian, who died Tuesday at the age of 98, had a classic rags-to-riches life. Here’s a look at key steps on his path to becoming one of the richest men in America:

1947: Kirk Kerkorian buys an air charter called Los Angeles Air Service for $60,000. It owns a DC-3, a Beechcraft and a Cessna. The company is later renamed Trans International Airlines.

1962: Sells the airline to Studebaker Corp.

1964: Buys back the airline.

1968: Sells the carrier to Transamerica for stock that eventually nets him $104 million.

1968: Acquires controlling 30% stake in Los Angeles-based Western Airlines.

1969: Forms International Leisure Corp. and sells 17% to the public for $26.5 million. The company acquires the Flamingo hotel-casino in Las Vegas and builds the International, the first successful Las Vegas casino not on the Strip.


1969: Purchases control of Culver City-based Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

1970-71: Sells two Las Vegas hotels to Hilton Hotels.

1973: Reenters casino gambling with construction of MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas.

1976: Sells remaining 17% stake in Western Airlines back to the company for $30.6 million.

1978: Accumulates 25.5% stake in Columbia Pictures. After overcoming antitrust objections, attempts a takeover but gives up in 1980 after a bitter battle with management.

1980: Spins off MGM casino operations into separate public company, retaining controlling stakes in both.

1981: Arranges MGM acquisition of United Artists after losing out to Marvin Davis in bid to acquire 20th Century Fox.

1982: Creates MGM/UA Home Entertainment to license MGM films for home video, sells 15% of the stock to the public, then buys it back.

1983: Makes but then withdraws offer to buy all shares of MGM/UA that he doesn’t own.

1984: Makes abortive effort to acquire control of Walt Disney Productions.

1985: Spins off United Artists as a separate public company. Buys the 30% of MGM Grand Hotels he doesn’t own for $126 million and months later sells its Las Vegas and Reno hotels to Bally Manufacturing for $440 million.

1986: Ted Turner buys MGM for $1.5 billion, but a financial squeeze forces him to sell back MGM’s name, logo and production and distribution assets. Turner keeps about 3,000 film titles.


1987: Kerkorian starts luxury airline MGM Grand Air. Agrees to buy the venerable Desert Inn and Sands hotels on the Las Vegas Strip from Summa Corp.

1990: Italian businessman Giancarlo Parretti buys MGM/UA for $1.3 billion. Within a year, lender Credit Lyonnais seizes the studio when Parretti fails to make payments.

1990: Kerkorian buys 9.8% of Chrysler Corp.

1991: Makes a failed bid for Trans World Airlines with TWA unions.

1992: MGM Grand Air shuts down.

November 1994: Kerkorian threatens to sue Chrysler unless it gives shareholders a higher dividend or buys back stock to boost the price. The company does both.

Dec. 1994: Kerkorian increases his stake in Chrysler stock to 10.2%.

April 1995: Chrysler rejects a $22.8-billion offer by Kerkorian and former Chrysler Chairman Lee Iacocca to buy the firm.

1996: Buys MGM for the third time for $1.3 billion, with Australian broadcaster Seven Network.

1998: Buys out Seven Network, gaining a 90% interest in the company. Acquires PolyGram’s film library.

May 1998: Daimler-Benz announces takeover of Chrysler; Kerkorian makes $2.7 billion in the transaction.


2000: MGM Grand buys Mirage Resorts for $4.4 billion.

2000: Kerkorian files a $9-billion securities fraud suit against DaimlerChrysler over the German automaker’s merger with Chrysler.

2001: Cuts stake in DaimlerChrysler almost a third.

2002: Seeks a new buyer for the MGM studio.

December 2003: Trial begins in Kerkorian suit against DaimlerChrysler.

2004: MGM Mirage announces it will buy Mandalay Resort Group, dramatically increasing Kerkorian’s investment on the Las Vegas Strip.

April 2005: Federal court rules in favor of DaimlerChrysler in Kerkorian suit.

April 2005: Sony Corp. and partners complete a $4.9-billion purchase of MGM from Kerkorian.

May 2005: Kerkorian announces that he owns nearly 4% of General Motors and says he intends to double his stake.

June 2005: His company says it increased its GM ownership to 7.2%, missing Kerkorian’s investment target.

September 2006: Kerkorian begins appeal in DaimlerChysler case.

2007: Federal court rejects Kerkorian’s appeal.

2011: Kerkorian gives $100 million to UCLA for medical research.

June 15, 2015: Kerkorian dies at the age of 98 at his home in Beverly Hills.

Source: Times librarian John Jackson and Scott Wilson