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Kirk Kerkorian makes a rare appearance in LA court

August 20, 2008

kirk.jpgPress shy billionaire Kirk Kerkorian made a rare public appearance in a Los Angeles courtroom on Wednesday to testify in the federal wiretapping trial of his longtime friend, attorney Terry Christensen. 
    
If shareholders in the casino company he controls, MGM Mirage, or anyone following his activist investing in Ford Motor Co thought Kerkorian might be less focused now because of his age, 91, it didn’t appear that way in court. Kerkorian stood upright when walking, and he looked spry and alert giving his testimony.

He noted his schooling ended in seventh grade, and he became a pilot and started his own airline. Kerkorian left out the fact that Forbes magazine last year estimated his fortune at $18 billion.

But on the witness stand, Kerkorian had to address more personal concerns. Christensen is accused of hiring former private detective to the stars, Anthony Pellicano, to illegally wiretap Kerkorian’s ex-wife, former tennis pro Lisa Bonder, during a closely watched 2002 child support dispute with Kerkorian. 
    
Kerkorian told the court he did not know Bonder’s telephone calls were wiretapped. He said he never even met Pellicano until he saw him at an April 2002 meeting with billionaire Steve Bing. At the time, Kerkorian was hoping to prkirk1.jpgove Bing — not himself — was the father of Bonder’s daughter.

“Steve Bing was drinking out of a water bottle,” Kerkorian testified. ”And after the meeting was over his lawyer — I believe it was his lawyer — saw me looking at that bottle and he smiled at me and took the bottle and walked away.”

The reason Kerkorian eyed the bottle — DNA evidence.  While he missed getting it that time, Kerkorian said he later obtained the DNA, which he said was done through “our own security,” and proved Bing’s paternity.
    
Kerkorian, who was dressed in a blue sports jacket, red tie and loafers, testified for about 30 minutes and effortlessly followed attorneys as they questioned him. He paused once to say his poor eyesight made it hard to see documents in front of him.

As he left the courtroom, he declined to take reporters’ questions. 
    
(Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis)

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