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Kirk Kerkorian dies aged 98

LOS ANGELES–Armenian-American billionaire and philanthropist Kirk Kerkorian died Monday at his home in Beverly Hills, his business partner said Tuesday. He was 98.

The Los Angeles Times reported that Kerkorian’s death was confirmed by Anthony Mandekic, the president and CEO of Kerkorian’s company Tracinda.

A casino and entertainment magnate, Kerkorian was also the founder of the Lincy Foundation, which for years supported Armenian schools, as well as launched several development projects in Armenia. In 2011, the Lincy Foundation was shut down and the balance was transferred to UCLA, which established the Dream Fund. The fund continues Kerkorian’s legacy of assisting Armenian schools and other community educational endeavors.

Long a fixture on the Forbes list of richest people in the world, in 2014 Kerkorian was ranked the richest Armenian on the Forbes billionaires list.

As recently as Monday, Asbarez reported  about Kerkorian’s effort to produce a big-budget film on the Armenian Genocide. The film, called “The Promise,” is set to star Christian Bale and Oscar Issac and will be directed by Terry Jones of “Hotel Rwanda” fame.

Kerkorian made his first visit to Armenia in June 1998. That same year, he was granted honorary citizenship by then-President Robert Kocharian for his backing of the 100th United Armenia Fund (UAF) airlift of humanitarian assistance to Armenia. The Los Angeles Times described the 100th airlift as, “the largest to any one country since the United States government’s historic Berlin airlift after World War II.”

Time Magazine named Kerkorian the 10th largest philanthropic donor in the U.S. in 2000. His efforts benefited not only the Republic of Armenia, but also projects in the U.S., including educational, medical, social service programs, scientific research projects and other charitable endeavors.

In 2008, Kerkorian was honored for his philanthropy by the USC Armenian Studies Institute. During a brief chat with Horizon correspondent Hayk Tovmasyan, Kerkorian reflected on his vision for Armenia.

“I’d like to see a more happy, more free, more prosperous Armenia. I want everything for Armenia,” Kerkorian said.

In the United Kingdom, following the ceasing of activities of the Aid Armenia U.K. community organisation which had been formed immediately following the 1987 devastating earthquake in Armenia, a supplementary organisation was formed under the auspices of the Armenian Community Council of Great Britain , named the Armenia Emergency Supplies Committee (AESC).  Funds were raised by the AESC from the community for the airlift of vital equipment and foodstuffs to Yerevan and Karabagh, and at that time Mr Kirk Kerkorian personally authorised and financed the charter of a Boeing aircraft from London Heathrow to transport the aid goods to Yerevan together with three members of the AESC committee who personally supervised the distribution of the aid goods.

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