In a move supported by both sides, a judge Monday allowed discovery-sharing to proceed on whether Kirk Kerkorian’s widow is entitled to a third of the billionaire’s estate, amounting to about $600 million based on its $1.8 billion value at the businessman’s death.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Maria Stratton had previously put a stay on litigation related to Una Davis’ petition while she appealed the judge’s March 2017 ruling allowing Kerkorian estate executor Anthony Mandekic to take an active role in the legal proceedings and oppose her petition rather than be required to be neutral. 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.
Davis appealed Stratton’s 2017 ruling, but a three-justice panel of the 2nd District Court of Appeal ruled in January that the judge ruled properly. The state Supreme Court then denied Davis’ petition for review.
Jill Basinger, an attorney for the Kerkorian estate, welcomed the lifting of the stay. She said, however, that she expects the trial of Davis’ petition to include efforts by her attorneys to posthumously embarrass Kerkorian rather than deal with the issues of whether their client is an omitted spouse.
When Davis’ lawyer, John Deily, attempted to reply to Basinger, the judge shook her head and said, “You don’t have to respond.”
The judge set a Dec. 1 trial-setting conference on the Davis petition.
Kerkorian and Davis were married for 57 days before he asked her to leave his home, according to the estate’s lawyers. The estate attorneys further state in court papers that Davis gave up any right to assets from the estate before she and Kerkorian married.
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 — who was 98 when he died on June 15, 2015, in Beverly Hills — had been married three times previously.
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.
In another ruling made Monday, Stratton denied a request by Davis that Mandekic bring up to date his accounting of the Kerkorian estate. Deily said about $1.8 billion is “entirely off the books” and that it is unclear if Mandekic bears any responsibility for the estimated $80 million in losses from “The Promise,” a 2016 movie that starred Christian Bale. The film was set in the final years of the Ottoman Empire and dealt with the Armenian genocide.
Stratton said the estate is too big to bring its accounting current and that any delays by the executor in updating the numbers have been reasonable. Basinger said some of the accounting information Davis seeks was previously reviewed by the court and rejected.
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.
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