A judge Wednesday granted a petition by the executor overseeing the estate of the late billionaire Kirk Kerkorian to distribute $500 million of its remaining $1.6 billion in assets to charities to be picked by a three-member committee.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Maria Stratton previously gave approval to another petition by the executor, Anthony Mandekic, that allowed him and the other members of the panel — former Kerkorian lawyer Patricia Glaser and UCLA physician Eric Esrailian — to distribute another $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.
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.
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 court papers filed by Mandekic’s attorneys.
But lawyer James Harvey, on behalf of Davis, said after the hearing that he is looking forward to seeing the results of an accounting of the estate that Mandecik’s lawyers told the judge they will produce by Dec. 20. Mandekic served as secretary treasurer of Kerkorian’s Beverly Hills-based Tracinda Corp., which is the largest asset in the estate, according to Davis’ attorneys court papers.
Mandekic may have possession of about $900 million in cash after selling 34 million shares of MGM through Tracinda, according to Davis’ attorneys’ court papers.
Mandecik’s lawyers counter in their court papers that the California Attorney General’s Office requested an accounting of the estate and that it will be produced under the guidelines of the state Probate Code. The attorneys also argue that Davis lacks “standing” to ask for an accounting and that her petition is “over-reaching” in its scope.
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