National Post

March 26, 2002

Kerkorian's former wife faked DNA paternity test

Araminta Wordsworth
National Post

The former wife of billionaire Kirk Kerkorian has admitted the four-year-old girl for whom he is being asked to pay more than US$320,000 a month in support is not his child and she faked DNA tests.

But Lisa Bonder Kerkorian, 37, claims the 84-year-old casino and media mogul went along with the story to promote the virile image created by having a child with a woman less than half his age.

She added she got saliva for the DNA test from one of his daughters. Her lawyers also say Mr. Kerkorian affirmed his paternity in several sworn documents.

Ms. Bonder Kerkorian has demanded a record US$3.8-million a year in child support. Mr. Kerkorian is ranked by Forbes magazine as the 46th richest person in the world.

Mr. Kerkorian made millions as a Las Vegas resort developer. Today, he is the 80% owner of MGM studios.

He has been paying US$50,000-US$75,000 a month in child support since Kira was born.

Seeking to counter his former wife's claims, his lawyers told a court in Los Angeles their client is sterile and could not have fathered Kira, who turned four this month.

In a 21-page lawsuit filed in a Santa Monica court in January, Mr. Kerkorian described Ms. Bonder Kerkorian's increasing interest in his money and accused her of violating confidentiality clauses about their decade-long relationship, marriage and divorce.

In the latest filing, he was also careful to refer to Kira as the "defendant's daughter," never as his own child.

According to court papers, Ms. Bonder Kerkorian was a gold-digger who spent six years extracting money from him, "using methods ranging from pleas of poverty to various threats."

She is using the child "as a pawn in an elaborate plan to obtain for herself even larger sums of money," he alleges.

Ms. Bonder Kerkorian maintains her former husband is a control freak who walks around with US$10,000 in his pockets. He also drops US$45,000 a year on custom-made outfits from Brioni, the classically elegant Italian tailor who dressed Pierce Brosnan in the James Bond movie Goldeneye.

"I should not have to be a slave to Kirk's personal manipulation, abusive personality, economic coercion and financial control in order to provide Kira with that to which she is entitled," she says in court filings.

Mr. Kerkorian said he bought his former wife houses in Beverly Hills, gave her US$1-million to move to New York and forgave her debts.

Court papers show he also agreed to marry her for a month so the child would not be illegitimate. The wedding took place in August, 1999, about 18 months after Kira's birth.

But his former wife kept coming back for more. In the legal papers, Mr. Kerkorian says in addition to US$2.5-million in 1991, along with forgiving US$2.9-million of her "personal debt," she got US$1-million in 1996, US$4-million in 1997, and US$3-million in 2000 to fix up her house in Beverly Hills, which he agreed to buy for US$8-million. (The deal fell through.)

After all this, he was chagrined when she upped her claim for child support to US$320,000 a month. It was bolstered by a seven-page statement of accounts providing a fascinating snapshot of the essentials of life in Beverly Hills.

Last week, Superior Court Judge Lee Smalley Edmon gave Mr. Kerkorian until Friday to pay half his former wife's legal expenses.

California law allows such an order because of the income disparities between Mr. Kerkorian, whose total worth is valued at US$6.5-billion, and Ms. Bonder Kerkorian, whose worth has been estimated at about US$12-million.

Ms. Bonder Kerkorian's lawyer estimated her legal costs at US$327,000 and anticipated additional fees of US$200,000.

She has already paid US$179,000, her lawyer, Steven Kolodny, told the judge.

HIGH ROLLERS:

The Kerkorians' court fight revolves not only around paternity but also the US$323,931.36 a month in child support sought by Lisa. Monthly amounts include: Parties US$14,083.33 for birthdays, playgroups, etc. Security US$47,450 to hold the riff-raff at bay. Vegetation US$1,557 to spruce indoor plants, trees. Lawyers US$16,704.99 to keep the writs flying.

awordsworth@nationalpost.com

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