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Kerkorian to Pay $50,316 Per Month

Custody: Ruling rejects demand for $320,000 the billionaire's ex-wife sought to maintain child's lifestyle. Judge calls claim 'incredible.'

September 14, 2002|From Times Staff and Wire Reports

A Los Angeles judge on Friday ordered billionaire Kirk Kerkorian to pay his ex-wife Lisa Bonder Kerkorian $50,316 a month to support their 4-year-old daughter in the style to which the little girl is accustomed.

That is far less than the $320,000 Lisa Kerkorian had demanded, a figure that Judge Lee Smalley Edmon called "incredible" and "a disguised form of spousal support."

After the ruling, a visibly upset Lisa Kerkorian said the judge "severely underestimated the cost it takes to maintain our daughter in a lifestyle he created for her." During the trial, she had increased her demand to $1.5 million per month, which she argued she was entitled to under California's guidelines for child support.

In a case that has drawn worldwide attention since it was filed in January, Lisa Kerkorian has argued that she needs at least $320,000 month for private jet flights, hotel accommodations, horses and parties for Kira.

The 84-year-old mogul was married to the 37-year-old former tennis pro for only a month in 1999. And although the two had a decade-long romance, it emerged this spring that Kerkorian is not the girl's natural father. Lisa Kerkorian admitted that she had faked the DNA paternity test by using saliva from Kerkorian's adult daughter.

Still, Kerkorian said he was willing to support Kira because he had grown attached to her.

Until the dispute began, Kerkorian had been paying $50,000 a month. At a recent hearing, he suggested an alternative figure of $22,206 a month.

But Edmon set the amount at $50,316 after compiling her own itemized list of appropriate expenses, using actual costs incurred during 2001 as her guide.

Lawyers for Kerkorian, who is the majority shareholder in the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer movie studio and the MGM Mirage Inc. and is worth an estimated $4.5 billion, said they were pleased with the decision.

"Instead of accepting the fantasy world presented by Lisa Kerkorian, [the judge] followed the law and the facts and ruled on the basis of common sense," said Dennis Wasser.

In her ruling, Edmon said Kira "is entitled to live a luxurious lifestyle."

Edmon awarded her $2,400 a month for equestrian activities, $1,400 a month for French and ballet lessons and other such activities.

Lisa Kerkorian had claimed she spent $3,900 a month on clothes and $11,000 per month for meals for her daughter.

The judge tossed those and other demands out as "grossly exceeding the reasonable needs of the child." By Edmon's calculations, that would mean purchasing a $130 outfit for Kira every day. As for $11,000 a month for food, the judge said, "that's enough to feed quite a few people."

The judge also dismissed the mother's demand for $6,000 a month for house flowers and $150,000 a month for private jet travel.

Instead, Edmon said Kira could have $8,500 a month for travel expenses, according to Kirk Kerkorian's lawyers.

"We'll live with this," said Bruce Cooperman, one of Kirk Kerkorian's attorneys. "For a 4-year-old, she'll be able to go virtually anywhere very high-end. The nicest hotels. The nicest ground transportation. The nicest meals. She'll be fine."

The judge said the $50,316 would be paid retroactive to Feb. 1. She also ordered Kirk Kerkorian to pay $175,000 of his wife's legal expenses, on top of the $250,000 Kerkorian had been previously ordered to pay.

On Friday, Lisa Kerkorian said she was unhappy with her legal representation and would file an appeal.

"This is a lifestyle case," she said. "I don't believe my position was advocated fairly."

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