(JTA) — Meshulam Riklis, an Israeli-American businessman who was called “perhaps the first corporate takeover artist” in the United States, has died.
Riklis had more than $1 billion in assets prior to several of his businesses going bankrupt in the early 1990s. One of the best-known was McCrory Corp., a chain of five-and-dime stores that was founded in 1882 and went bust in 1992 under Riklis. His critics accused him of gutting the firm and others, and of shifting around its wealth before terminating it.
It was the Baltimore Sun that described Riklis as the corporate takeover artist in the aftermath of the McCrory’s failure.
Riklis died Friday at 95 in a Tel Aviv hospital, Maariv reported.
He lent money to his close friend Ariel Sharon, the late Israeli prime minister, to buy the Sharon family’s ranch in southern Israel, according to Israel National News.
His third wife, Tali Sinai-Riklis, said in 2015 that Riklis had donated about $190 million throughout his life to Israeli charities and pro-Israel causes. He also was married to the actress Pia Zadora in 1977; they divorced in 1993. Riklis had four children in total.
Riklis, in addition to producing the 1982 film “Butterfly” starring Zadora, financed “G.L.O.W.: Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling,” a syndicated program featuring women professional wrestlers. It was the inspiration for the current scripted series “GLOW” on Netflix, a fictionalized account of Riklis’ creation, which ran from 1986 to 1990.
Riklis was born in Istanbul, Turkey to parents who were on their way from Russia to prestate Israel. He moved to the United States in 1947 when he was 23 and later became a citizen. He moved permanently to Israel about a decade ago.