Las Vegas Sun: Kirk Kerkorian remembered as visionary businessman, philanthropist, loyal friend
Friends and business associates of billionaire builder and philanthropist Kirk Kerkorian talked today about the man who helped shape Las Vegas. Kerkorian, who built or owned some of the biggest casinos on the Las Vegas Strip, died Monday at age 98 of natural causes at his home in Los Angeles.
Here is some of what people had to say about him.
• Steve Wynn, chairman and CEO of Wynn Resorts: “I started playing tennis with Kirk when I was 26 years old at the Las Vegas Country Club in 1968. I have been proud to be his friend ever since. Over the years, we did deals together and enjoyed life. He was a man who lived every day to its fullest and although we will miss him, we know that Kirk in his time didn’t miss a thing.”
• Brian Greenspun, CEO, publisher and editor of Greenspun Media Group: “Kirk Kerkorian was one of a handful of people who built the city he loved — Las Vegas. He was quiet; he was shy; he was unassuming, and yet he was a giant of American capitalism whose vision and love of the deal helped catapult Las Vegas to the top of the world when it came to building the megaresorts for which we are so famous.
“Kirk was a dear friend of my parents and a cherished friend of mine. His business genius will be missed by all, and his warm and endearing friendship and loyalty will be sadly missed by all of those people lucky enough to have enjoyed it.”
• Jim Murren, chairman and CEO of MGM Resorts International: “Mr. Kerkorian combined brilliant business insight with steadfast integrity to become one of the most reputable and influential financiers of our time. Personally, he was a friend and coach who taught me the importance in looking forward, and to look back only to understand how things could be done better.”
• Alex Yemenidjian, former chairman and CEO of MGM Resorts International: “He was kind to everyone, a loyal friend and a gentleman’s gentleman. In business, Kirk was brilliant and could see around corners. But in his heart, Kirk was really a philanthropist who lived modestly and gave extravagantly. He has profoundly enriched the lives of many without expecting or accepting anything in return, and that is an admirable legacy. I love him and I will miss him terribly.”
• Harry Reid, U.S. Senate minority leader: “He was just a really interesting, wonderful man. He is one of the personalities I will never forget. My relationship with him is one of the special things in my life. I feel so fortunate to be able to talk on a personal basis about this man. He was one of a kind.”
• Geoff Freeman, president and CEO of the American Gaming Association: “In an industry that thrives on innovation, Kirk Kerkorian was a pioneer who set a higher standard for gaming and elevated Las Vegas’ stature with each move he made. He was also a generous philanthropist whose contributions will continue to make Nevada a better place for decades to come. Given his outsized influence in shaping the gaming industry, it’s no surprise that Mr. Kerkorian was among the first classes of inductees into the Gaming Hall of Fame. Our thoughts and prayers are with his daughters, extended family and friends as they mourn his passing.”
• Kristin McMillan, president and CEO of the Las Vegas Metro Chamber of Commerce: “The Las Vegas Metro Chamber of Commerce and its members are deeply saddened by the passing of Kirk Kerkorian. Immigrant, entrepreneur, aviator, business leader and philanthropist, Mr. Kerkorian was one of a kind. Not only did he epitomize the American dream, his visionary and gutsy business leadership shaped Las Vegas and set the course for our city to flourish in tourism, gaming and hospitality. His legacy will be forever celebrated as part of the Las Vegas Strip and recognized throughout the many MGM Resorts International properties around the world.”