Sumner Redstone, the billionaire media man, passed away at the age of 97

Sumner Redstone, the media mogul who built his family's theater series in a billion-dollar empire that includes CBS and Viacom, has died and later became the center of a lawsuit for an abandoned lover that nearly cost his family his financial legacy. He was 97 years old.

Redstone, who had often boasted that he would live forever, passed away Tuesday, according to a statement by the National Amusements released Wednesday morning. The statement did not mention the cause of death.

Sumner's daughter and president of ViacomCBS, Shari Redstone, said in a statement Wednesday that my father led an extraordinary life that not only shaped entertainment as we know it today, but also created an amazing family legacy. "Through it all, we shared a great love for each other and he was a great father, great-grandfather and great-grandfather. I am so proud of being his daughter and I will always miss him."

Redstone controlled about 80% of the voting shares in Viacom and CBS through its private holding company, National Amusements. As of November 2019, his net worth is estimated at $ 3.9 billion. By December 5, 2019, the first day of trading on the once again married ViacomCBS, it had dropped to $ 2.6 billion. And in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, it was worth $ 3 billion in May 2020.

“Patience is a virtue I don't respect,” Redstone said in a 2012 interview with CNBC. "If you are patient, you will never go anywhere. It takes impatience to drive you to success."

Under pressure from shareholders over reports of Redstone's declining health and mental competence, on February 3, 2016 the CBS Board announced his resignation as CEO and named CEO Les Moonves as his successor. A day later, Viacom named Honorary Chairman and CEO of Redstone Philip Doman as his successor as CEO. Redstone abdicated his position to vote on the Viacom Board of Directors in February 2017.

ViacomCBS CEO Bob Bakisch said in a statement on Wednesday that Sumner Redstone was a visionary, operator and brilliant dealmaker who had single-handedly transformed a family-owned theater company into a global media portfolio. "He was a force of nature and a fierce competitor, leaving behind a deep legacy in both business and philanthropy. ViacomCBS will remember Sumner for his unique passion for winning, his endless intellectual curiosity, and his utter dedication to the company. We express our deepest condolences to the Redstone family today."

Redstone's health was the focus of much speculation in his later years. With CBS and Viacom in merger talks in the spring of 2018, the Wall Street Journal reported that he was not able to talk much. Citing people who were with him, the newspaper said that the infamous Redstone autocrat had an iPad connected with buttons to activate his recorded voice saying "yes", "no" and "you."

A lawsuit filed in November 2015 by a 42-year-old former friend challenged his competence, claiming that he had become a "living ghost" and that his conversations became little more than a grunt. Redstone's lawyers described the allegations as "unreasonable" and a "despicable violation of his privacy."

On May 9, 2016, a judge rejected the lawsuit after the billionaire confirmed in videotaped testimony that he did not want his ex-girlfriend, Manuela Herzer, to play any role in his life. He referred to it repeatedly as "f ------ b ----."

Sumner Murray Rothstein was born in Boston on May 27, 1923, to parents of Bill and Michael "Mickey" Rothstein. His father, who is a nightclub worker, later broke up the German title.

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