Late MGM Resorts Founder Kirk Kerkorian Finally Gets Wish, as US Recognizes Armenian Genocide

Posted on: April 26, 2021, 08:12h. 

Last updated on: April 26, 2021, 01:18h.

Kirk Kerkorian, the founder of MGM Resorts, wanted the United States to formally recognize the Armenian genocide for much of his life. Nearly six years after his passing in June of 2015 at the age of 98, that wish has finally been fulfilled.

MGM Resorts Kirk Kerkorian Armenia genocide
Kirk Kerkorian stands in front of the International construction site in 1968. The Las Vegas visionary and MGM Resorts founder has finally had his wish of the US recognizing the Armenia genocide come true. (Image: Las Vegas News Bureau)

Kerkorian is one of the most important figures in the history of Las Vegas. Along with architect Martin Stern Jr., he created the concept of the “mega-resort.” During his career, which made him a multibillionaire, Kerkorian thrice built what at the time was the world’s largest integrated casino resort.

Kerkorian envisioned and constructed the International Hotel, which is today the Westgate, the original MGM Grand — today known as Bally’s — and the present MGM Grand. While business was always at the forefront of his mind, in the back Kerkorian never forgot his parents’ pilgrimage from present-day Turkey.

During his life, he gave more than $1 billion to charities in Armenia. Through his nonprofit, called the Lincy Foundation — named in honor of his daughters Linda and Tracy — Kerkorian gave hundreds of millions of dollars to numerous charities throughout the world, including many in Southern Nevada.

Genocide Recognized

While Kerkorian was one of the world’s most philanthropic individuals, the late casino tycoon was most passionate about his parents’ Armenia. Prior to his death, he set aside $100 million for a Hollywood film to be produced, centered during the genocide period that ran between 1915 to 1923.

Released in 2017, “The Promise” was directed by Oscar-nominated director Terry George and starred Academy Award- winner Christian Bale.

More than 100 years since the Ottoman Empire systematically exterminated some 1.5 million Armenians, the United States under President Joe Biden’s administration is publicly recognizing the genocide.

The American people honor all those Armenians who perished in the genocide that began 106 years ago,” Biden said in a statement. “We affirm the history. We do this not to cast blame, but to ensure that what happened is never repeated.”

Past US presidents have refused to recognize the genocide out of fear of damaging relations with Turkey, which succeeded the Ottoman Empire.

Turkey was quick to react, the government saying that it does not take history lessons from the US or any other country. A grateful Armenia said Biden’s statement is a “principled position” and a step toward “the restoration of truth and historical justice.”

Kerkorian Estate Departs MGM

Kirk Kerkorian’s will mandated that his heirs dispose of the family’s stake in MGM Resorts in a timely fashion.

At the time of his death, Kerkorian owned 16 percent of the casino company. Today, the Kerkorian family owns zero percent. The disposition was completed in September of 2019.

Kerkorian’s legacy lives on, and he will forever be remembered in Las Vegas. Just this month, the UNLV School of Medicine announced it is renaming its school the Kirk Kerkorian School of Medicine at UNLV. Kerkorian was a longtime supporter of the school, much of his donations being made privately.