MGM Casino Mogul Kirk Kerkorian’s Estate Settles with Widow for $12.5 Million

The widow of MGM Resorts International founder Kirk Kerkorian will receive $12.5 million from the billionaire’s estate, despite waiving away her claim his fortune when she signed a prenup four years ago.

Una Davis and Kirk Kerkorian were married in 2014 and lasted 57 days. Divorce proceedings were underway when the MGM Resorts founder died in 2015, aged 98. (Image: Una Davis)

Una Davis married Kerkorian — known as “the father of the megaresort” — in 2014 and lived with him for just 57 days before their relationship broke down and he asked her leave. Divorce proceedings were underway when Kerkorian died in June 2015, aged 98.

Davis – Kerkorian's fourth wife – had claimed she was entitled to a third of his $1.8 billion estate. Her lawyers argued that she signed the premarital agreement under duress and that she did not fully understand it, making it invalid. Moreover, they claimed at the time Kerkorian’s advanced age rendered him unable to make decisions and that he was under undue influence from those around him.

‘Not About the Money’

Generally speaking, under California law an “omitted spouse” is able to claim a third of the deceased’s estate if the will fails to provide for them, a law designed to protect the surviving spouse from accidental disinheritance.

But in January, an appeals court held that the estate’s executor was within his right to reject Davis’ claim for $600 million. On Wednesday a Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Michael Small approved the settlement between Davis and the billionaire'’s estate.

Additionally, the estate will create a $10 million “donor advised fund” in Davis’ name, to be administered by the National Philanthropic Trust. Davis will be able to advise on an additional $50 million worth of charitable contributions.

Davis’ lawyer John Deily told reporters his client was pleased with the outcome. “It was never about the money,” he said. “It was about the keeping the spirit of Kerkorian’s charitable interests.”

Building the Strip

In 2008, Kerkorian was listed by Forbes as the 41st richest person in the world, with a net worth of $16 billion, but his fortune was adversely affected by the ensuing recession. As well as one of the key figures to shape the Las Vegas Strip, he was an aviator, a movie mogul and a philanthropist.

Initially an airline tycoon, Kerkorian later moved into the hotel business, building the world’s largest hotel in Las Vegas three times.

He acquired a controlling stake in the Metro-Goldwyn Mayer movie studio in 1969 and used the name to add some Hollywood luster to his new Vegas project — the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino, from the MGM Resorts empire grew.

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