The chairman and largest investor in Sears Holdings is offering to buy the retailer out of bankruptcy — including 500 of its remaining stores — in what may amount to the chain's last hope to survive its precipitous decline.

Critics have also accused him of structuring his deals to ensure he gains access to key assets in the event of the retailer's demise. He was also earning hundreds of millions annually in Sears debt payments before the retailer's bankruptcy. USA Today