Kirk Kerkorian a Las Vegas mogul, who understood businesses from a very young age and amassed billions from his brash tact, died yesterday. Surprisingly, as with many of his business strategies, the cause of his death hasn’t been revealed.
While the fact that Kerkorian was an eighth-grade dropout has been significantly highlighted, his business acumen and ability to accurately judge the value of an enterprise is a much widely known fact. He has been buying and selling stakes in businesses based on his knowledge, but the billionaire interestingly attributes his success to luck. He preferred to call himself a “small-town boy who got lucky.” Kirk Kerkorian rarely gave interviews, but in one of the few, he said,
“I didn’t go to school, but I went into buying and selling businesses at an early age, I got into a lot of different businesses. I had to have a lot of luck. When you’re a self-made man you start very early in life.”
Though Kerkorian might have been a billionaire, he preferred to make deals and conduct business rather than enjoy his fame and fortune. He would forgo glitzy Hollywood parties and movie premieres for intense boardroom meetings. Moreover, he never flaunted his wealth, a trait not inherited by his descendants. Instead of a stretch limousine, Kirk Kerkorian would often prefer to drive his trusty old Mercury station wagon, shared Patty Glaser, his attorney of four decades.
“He was a very private guy who shunned the limelight, both in a business way and from a charitable standpoint.”
His foresight was remarkable as well. When most hotels averaged 250 rooms, Kerkorian commissioned the 1,568-room International Hotel, the world’s largest hotel when it opened in the late 1960s. The mogul even helped Elvis Presley, who was invited to perform there in 1969, to re-launch his live performance career.
Kerkorian then opened the first MGM Grand in Las Vegas in the 1970s, which was, once again the world’s largest hotel, containing more than 2,000 rooms and a 1,200-seat showroom. A few years later, he built another MGM Grand that had 5,000 rooms. This too was the world’s largest at the time.
Kirk Kerkorian bought and sold the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer film studio three times, each time making a sizable profit on the transactions. Perhaps the only deals that didn’t come through were the ones where he tried to take over auto-maker Chrysler and Columbia Pictures.
What makes the man strangely different from the modern world was his lack of a “master-plan,” revealed Kerkorian himself,
“Regardless of what people think, there was no great master plan. Every year was a big year for me. First I was simply trying to earn enough to get something to eat, then enough to buy a car.”
Born to a poor Armenian fruit grower and despite being the youngest of four children, Kirk Kerkorian proved that with perseverance and hard-work, one can rise above mediocrity.
[Image Credit | Los Angeles Times, via Associated Press,1969]