Lawyers for the executor overseeing the estate of the late billionaire Kirk Kerkorian filed court papers seeking permission to distribute $500 million of the estate’s remaining $1.6 billion in assets to charities to be picked by a three-member committee.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Maria Stratton, who is scheduled to consider Kerkorian estate executor Anthony Mandekic’s petition on Oct. 4, previously gave approval to the committee to give $200 million to charities of their choosing.
Kerkorian’s will specified that his estate be fully distributed within three years of his death. He was 98 when he died on June 15, 2015, in Beverly Hills.
“The delay and distraction from his testamentary desire and intent is due, primarily, to the efforts of certain individuals to try to extort as much money from the estate as possible…,” Mandekic’s lawyers state in their court papers filed Wednesday.
The lawyers were referring to claims by Kerkorian’s widow, Una Davis, to one-third of the estate — about $600 million, based on its $1.8 billion value at the businessman’s death — and $20 million by a second woman, Vanessa Sandin.
Kerkorian and Davis were married for 57 days before he asked her to leave his home, according to Mandekic’s lawyers’ court papers. Sandin maintains in a civil suit that Kerkorian befriended her before his death and promised her $20 million.
Mandekic’s lawyers say Sandin signed an acknowledgement and agreement in June 2014 that she was only entitled to gifts from Kerkorian if the bequest was in writing, but that no such document exists.
The Mandekic lawyers further state in their court papers that Davis gave up any right to assets from the estate before she and Kerkorian married.
In the unlikely event that the Davis and Sandin claims are found to be valid, there would still be about $1 billion left in the estate, more than enough for the $500 million charity distribution, according to Mandekic’s attorneys.
Davis says she was pressured by those close to Kerkorian into signing a waiver to any interest she had before the two wed in 2014. Kerkorian had been married three times previously.
Stratton previously put a stay on litigation related to Davis’ petition while she appeals the judge’s March ruling allowing Mandekic to oppose her petition. Davis maintains she is an “omitted spouse” who is entitled to the same amount of money she would have received had Kerkorian died without a will.
Documents filed by Kerkorian’s attorneys when his estate was opened included a copy of his will, dated July 2013. Kerkorian designated that $15 million be given to Patricia Mary Christensen, the wife of his longtime attorney Terry Christensen, and $7 million to Mandekic, who also served as secretary-treasurer of Kerkorian’s Beverly Hills-based Tracinda Corp. Kerkorian left another $6 million to one of his lawyers, Patricia Glaser.
Glaser, Mandekic and UCLA physician Eric Esrailian are the three members of the Kerkorian charity committee who chose the beneficiaries of the first $200 million and will do the same if they get court approval for the next $500 million.
Kerkorian developed key properties on the Las Vegas Strip, including the MGM and MGM Grand. He also invested in and operated businesses in a number of industries, including airlines, automakers, Chrysler Corp., General Motors and film studios. He purchased MGM Studios three times, bought United Artists and tried to acquire Columbia Pictures.
–City News Service