Billionaire Sumner Redstone dead at 97

Billionaire Sumner Redstone dead at the age of 97 on Tuesday, according to media reports. The media titan, Redstone, was infamous for his deal-making and turbulent lifestyle.

The media titan, at his peak, owned CBS and Viacom, which are parent companies of several subsidiaries such as Paramount Pictures and MTV to Comedy Central and Spike TV.

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“My father led an extraordinary life that not only shaped entertainment as we know it today, but created an incredible family legacy,” Sumner’s daughter Shari Redstone said in a statement on Wednesday. “Through it all, we shared a great love for one another and he was a wonderful father, grandfather and great-grandfather. I am so proud to be his daughter and I will miss him always.”

Billionaire Sumner Redstone, before his death at the age of 97, had a life full of controversy and legal battles. Redstone was dealing with court proceedings and lawsuits over his fortune built around proving his mental incompetence.

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Sumner Redstone’s court battles

The extended battle over Redstone’s holdings messily spilled into court. Redstone’s ex-girlfriend, Manuela Herzer, sought to prove he was incompetent — and under undue influence from Shari Redstone. At the time when he kicked her out of his mansion and revoked her authority to make healthcare decisions for him.

Those lawsuits were settled in January 2019. A judge threw out the suit after watching a videotaped deposition of Redstone, who struggled to answer questions but convinced the judge of his competence. Sumner Redstone spewed curses when his ex-girlfriend’s name was raised.

Redstone’s outspoken personality and grit

Redstone was known for his brash and outspoken style. In a 2019 New York magazine profile of Shari, Dick Parsons, the former CEO of Time Warner, compared her to her father by saying, “Sumner didn’t care about other people’s feelings as far as I could tell. Sumner was very bright, very focused — Sumner could even be ruthless. And Shari has some of those qualities.”

In a famous and telling moment in his life, Redstone survived a 1979 Boston hotel fire by hanging from the ledge of his hotel-room window. The episode left his hand and legs seriously burned and required multiple surgeries, but it was frequently used as a sign of the mogul’s grit.

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