Wheel of real estate

TV personality Merv Griffin, producer of game show hits like Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune, has always been a big real estate investors—now, he’s looking to get bigger.

TV personality Merv Griffin has dabbled in all manner of pursuits over the years: movies, the record business, daytime and late-night television, game shows. But he has long been involved in another business line as well—real estate.

Griffin’s career started as a singer, when he was discovered by Doris Day and began making movies for Warner Brothers. Regularly appearing on television, he began hosting his own television show, Play Your Hunch and started sitting in for Jack Parr on The Tonight Show. When NBC gave Griffin his own show on its daytime roster, which ultimately failed, it launched him into a world of hosting and producing game shows like Word for Word, Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune. He also hosted his own late-night talk show from 1969 until 1986.

But the king of game shows also demonstrated considerable business acumen. With two mega-hits like Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune under his belt, Griffin was able to sell his company, Merv Griffin Enterprises, to Columbia Pictures Television for $250 million (€195 million) in 1986, rumored at the time to be the largest acquisition of an entertainment company owned by a single person.

With the windfall, he began looking at real estate. He purchased the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, which he sold in 2003 for $130 million, as well as the Resorts Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City from Donald Trump in 1988. Griffin also bought Paradise Island in the Bahamas for $400 million, but reportedly later sold it for only $125 million.

Now Griffin is looking to another facet of property—financing. In addition to his investment banking and advisory firm Griffin & Company, the 80-year-old entertainer recently announced the creation of a new real estate brokerage called Worldwide. According to a press statement, the firm has already amassed a $65-million inventory in two months and has a staff of 35 led by firm president Steve Lewis. The firm has listings in Southern California, as well as New York, the Bahamas, Italy, Spain and Belize.