Ronald Perelman

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Ronald Perelman
Ron Perelman Shankbone 2009 Vanity Fair.jpg
Perelman at the 2009 Tribeca Film Festival
Born Ronald Owen Perelman
(1943-01-01) January 1, 1943 (age 76)
Greensboro, North Carolina, U.S.
Alma mater Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania
Occupation Chairman & CEO,
MacAndrews & Forbes Incorporated
Net worth Increase US$12.2 billion (January 2016)[1]
Spouse(s) Faith Golding (1965–1984; divorced)
Claudia Cohen (1985–1994; divorced)
Patricia Duff (1995–1996; divorced)
Ellen Barkin (2000–2006; divorced)
Anna Chapman (2010–present)
Children 8
Website MacAndrews & Forbes Incorporated

Ronald Owen Perelman (born January 1, 1943) is an American businessman, investor, and philanthropist.[3] Through his company MacAndrews & Forbes Incorporated, he has invested in various companies with interests that encapsulate groceries, cigars, licorice, makeup, cars, photography, television, camping supplies, security, gaming, jewelry, banks, and comic book publishing. Perelman annually is one of the world's largest philanthropic donors. As of January 2016, Perelman is the 36th richest American, and 80th richest person in the world, with an estimated wealth of $12.2 billion.[4]

Early life

Perelman was born in Greensboro, North Carolina on January 1, 1943, the son of Ruth (née Caplan) and Raymond G. Perelman.[5][6] He was raised in a Jewish family.[7] Raymond was an accomplished businessman. Along with his father and brother, he controlled the American Paper Products corporation. Raymond eventually left the company and bought Belmont Iron Works, a manufacturer of structural steel.[8]

From his father, Perelman learned the fundamentals of business.[9] By the time Ronald turned eleven years old he regularly sat in on board meetings of his father's company. Raymond was a rough teacher, harshly criticizing Ronald for even the slightest misstep.[5] A 2006 article published in the Forbes 400 discusses their relationship in detail.[10]

Perelman attended the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania where he followed in his father's footsteps and majored in business. He graduated in 1964 and completed his master's in 1966.[11]

Business career

Belmont Industries

Perelman's first major business deal took place in 1961 during his Freshman year at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. He and his father bought the Esslinger Brewery for $800,000, then sold it three years later for a $1 million profit.[12]

Throughout Perelman's tenure at the Belmont Iron Works (later renamed Belmont Industries) he assisted his father on many other deals, earning millions of dollars in the process. Their general strategy was one Perelman would follow for the rest of his life: Purchase a company, sell off superfluous divisions to reduce debt and generate profit, bring the company back to its core business, and either sell it or hang onto it for cash flow. In 1978, twelve years after Perelman formally joined Belmont Industries, he was the vice president but he still strove for more power and influence in the company. Raymond told him that he had no intention of stepping down anytime soon. Perelman resigned and moved to New York. The two barely spoke to one another for the next six years.[13]

MacAndrews & Forbes Holdings

He orchestrated the purchase of Cohen-Hatfield Jewelers in 1978, his first deal as an independent investor free of his father's influence. He recognized the enormous value of Hatfield's mismanaged jewelry cache and bought control of the company with a $1.9 million loan from his wife, Faith Golding. Within a year, Perelman had sold all of company's retail locations and reduced the company to its lucrative wholesale jewelry division, earning him $15 million.[14]

His next target was MacAndrews & Forbes, a distributor of licorice extract and chocolate. The management and investors repeatedly rebuffed his efforts to purchase the company and filed an unsuccessful lawsuit to prevent the acquisition, but Perelman prevailed. That his father had tried and failed to acquire it 10 years earlier made his success particularly sweet.[15]

MacAndrews & Forbes has become a holding company with interests in a diversified portfolio of public and private companies. Wholly owned by Perelman, who is chairman and chief executive officer, MacAndrews & Forbes invests in companies with strong market positions, recognized brands and growth potential. Current holdings include participants in a range of industries, from cosmetics and entertainment to biotechnology and military equipment, including AM General,[16] Deluxe,[17] Revlon,[18] Scientific Games,[19] SIGA Technologies[20] and VTV.[21]

He has done dozens of deals with Revlon Corporation,[22] thrifts for $315 million and renamed it First Gibraltar Bank,[23][24] Coleman Company, Sunbeam Products,[25] and New World Entertainment.[26] He formerly owned Marvel Entertainment Group.[27]

The story of Perelman's Marvel adventures were caricatured in Titans of Finance (Alternative Comics, 2001, ISBN 1-891867-05-9)[28] by R. Walker and Josh Neufeld,[29] a comic book collaboration between a cartoonist and a finance columnist, which casts Wall Street executives and traders as heroes and villains. The lead story features Perelman, with Mike Vranos, Al Dunlap, and Victor Niederhoffer among those included.

Morgan Stanley

On February 17, 2005, Perelman filed a lawsuit against Morgan Stanley.[30] Two facts were at issue: Did Morgan Stanley know about the problems with Sunbeam and was Perelman misled? During the discovery phase, the judge became exasperated with what she perceived as deliberate stonewalling on the part of Morgan Stanley and ordered the jury to assume Morgan Stanley deliberately and knowingly defrauded Perelman.[31] Hobbled, Morgan Stanley had no choice but to argue that Perelman was too savvy an investor to have fallen for their transparent tricks.[32] After a five-week trial, the jury deliberated for two days, found in favor of Perelman, and awarded him $1.45 billion.[33] The damages stung particularly because Morgan Stanley passed up Perelman's offer to settle the case for $20 million.[34] Morgan Stanley maintained that the court case was improperly decided, citing the judge's decision to use Florida law over New York law and her decision to order the jury to consider Morgan Stanley guilty before the trial began.[35] In 2007, the courts of appeal reversed the judgement. The judges' declared Perelman hadn't provided any evidence showing he'd suffered any actual damage as a result of Morgan Stanley's actions. Perelman appealed,[36] but found himself shot down by the Florida Supreme Court who dismissed it in a 5–0 decision.[37] Undeterred even after that setback, Perelman went back to the trial court and asked for the case to be reopened because the hiding of email evidence was "a classic example of fraud on the court". The trial court rejected his arguments, but as of January 2009, he is beseeching Florida's 4th Circuit to reopen the case.[38]



In the late 1980s, Perelman was repeatedly accused of engaging in greenmail.[39] "Greenmail" is when someone buys a large block of a company's stock and threatens to take over the company unless he is paid a substantial premium over his purchase price. In the case of someone such as Perelman or Carl Icahn with a reputation as a corporate raider, the mere act of buying up shares could send a company into a panic and investors into a buying frenzy.[40] Perelman insists he seriously intended to buy every corporation he bought into.[41]

He was first accused of greenmail in late 1986 during a run at CPC International when he bought 8.2% of CPC at around $75 a share and indirectly sold it back to CPC through Salomon Brothers a month later at 88.5 a share for a $40 million profit. Both CPC and Perelman denied it was greenmail despite appearances to the contrary, including what looked like an artificial price increase by Salomon shortly before they sold Perelman's shares.[42]

Transworld, a company Perelman held 15% of, was spooked and instituted a variety of anti-takeover measures while preemptively putting themselves up onto the auction block to avoid a Perelman takeover.[40] Whatever his intentions may have been, he never acted on them. As a part of Transworld's restructuring in 1988, he sold his stake.[40]

The third charge of greenmailing levied against him was the best-known and stemmed from his attempt to purchase Gillette in November 1986. Perelman opened negotiations with a bid of $4.12 billion. Gillette responded with an unsuccessful lawsuit and public insinuations of insider trading. Perelman accumulated 13.8% of Gillette before he made what he would later call the worst decision he ever made and sold his stake to Gillette later that month for a $34 million profit. Gillette had put word out that Ralston Purina had agreed to buy a 20% block of stock, making any attempt by Perelman to buy Gillette much more difficult. Perelman decided to sell his share to Ralston Purina, but before he did so Gillette's executives called him up, asking if he'd sell his shares to them and they'd sell the shares to Ralston Purina. He sold his shares to Gillette, Ralston backed out of the deal, and Perelman was left feeling a little foolish for having been tricked into taking greenmail.[43] Undeterred by the agreement he signed declaring he wouldn't attempt a hostile takeover of Gillette for at least 10 years, he waited until June 1987 to attempt a friendly takeover. Opening bidding at $4.66 billion, Perelman gradually upped his bid over the following months to $5.7 billion to no avail. Gillette's management had no interest in selling, insisting they were worth at least $55 a share.[44] In October 1987, Perelman finally gave up and withdrew his offer.[45]

Monica Lewinsky

Perelman stumbled into the Lewinsky scandal. In early 1998, Vernon Jordan recommended Monica Lewinsky to Perelman as a potential employee, pitching her as a very smart young woman. While Jordan was on the Revlon board of directors, Jordan rarely spoke to Perelman and had never before recommended anyone to him. Jordan indicated he'd already talked about Lewinsky with MacAndrews & Forbes Holdings vice president, Jaymie Durnan. Durnan told Perelman that he had determined there was no position available for Lewinsky at Perelman's company, but that he had forwarded Lewinsky's resume to Revlon. Perelman claims to have been as surprised as anyone when he found out about the Lewinsky–Clinton connection later that month.[46] He found that Revlon had already made a job offer which was quickly withdrawn, but it was too late; Revlon and Perelman were all over the scandal.[47]


In April 2001, M&F Worldwide bought Perelman's 83% stake in Panavision for $128 million. This would be unremarkable except that Perelman controlled M&F Worldwide and the price paid for his stake was four times market value. At the time, M&F Worldwide was a healthy company with an excellent balance sheet while Panavision was bleeding red ink. M&F Worldwide's other shareholders cried foul, alleging the only person who stood to benefit from the deal was Perelman and took their complaints to the courts.[48] Perelman insisted the deal was an excellent one and in the best interest of the shareholders because Panavision was well-positioned to profit from the move to digital cinematography.[49] The share price tumbled from six to three after the deal and reflected M&F Worldwide shareholders' lack of confidence.[50] Perelman tried to pacify M&F Worldwide's shareholders with a $15 million settlement, but the judge rejected it as grossly inadequate. Ultimately, Perelman agreed to undo the deal.[51]

Fred Tepperman

Perelman hired Fred Tepperman as his CFO after Tepperman left Warner Communications in 1985. Starting with Pantry Pride, Tepperman worked on every single business deal Perelman orchestrated throughout Tepperman's seven-year stint at MacAndrews & Forbes. Tepperman's tenure came to an abrupt end just after Christmas in 1991 when Perelman fired him for being derelict in his duties. Tepperman had been distracted for the past year by his Alzheimers-afflicted wife of 30 years. He had been taking longer vacations, he kept shorter hours at the office that precluded Perelman's famous breakfast meetings, and he seemed generally distracted and distraught. According to Tepperman, Perelman once told him to not look sad in front of bankers because it made them nervous. A clause in Tepperman's contract entitled him to a large portion of his salary and benefits in the event of an injury that prevented him from being able to work; an injury which Tepperman claimed he had in fact suffered, albeit of a psychological nature, as a result of the effect his wife's condition had on him. His demands totaled up to $30 million. That number stems partially from Tepperman's salary, which started at $275,000 and rose to $1.2 million in 1990[52] and partially from his large benefits package, which included a luxury car of a brand of his choice.[53] Perelman was quick to file a countersuit for fraud, claiming that Tepperman had sneakily changed the company's retirement plan in such a way that Tepperman would personally gain millions of dollars.[52]

It took over three years for the case to make it to court. Tepperman's attorney, Barry Slotnick, charged that the breakfast meetings were nothing but a podium Perelman used to boast about his sexual conquests, and thus Tepperman was merely avoiding pointless meetings, as any worker would. His long vacations were declared to not be an issue on account of telecommuting; he could do his job just as well in Florida as in New York. Perelman's attorney Stanley Arkin argued that Tepperman was unable to perform his job, had refused to accept this, and was justifiably fired. Stanley revealed earlier in the case that Tepperman was actually living with his wife's nurse, damaging his reputation as a devoted husband who was just looking out for his wife. Slotnick responded that his wife's family were aware of the arrangement, believing it necessary for Tepperman to move on with his life. The only witness to take the stand was Tepperman, who testified for six days, before the case ended with a sealed settlement.[52]

Philanthropy and political donations

MacAndrews & Forbes established the Revlon/UCLA Women’s Cancer Research Program in 1994 for research into the causes and treatment of breast and ovarian cancer. The company also founded the Ronald O. Perelman Department of Dermatology at NYU Medical Center. Over the years, MacAndrews & Forbes has also provided significant support for such organizations as the National Breast Cancer Coalition Fund, Carnegie Hall, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Hospital and Perelman’s alma mater, The University of Pennsylvania.

In 1993, the Entertainment Industry Foundation (EIF) Revlon Run/Walk For Women was created through the combined efforts of Perelman, Lily Tartikoff, co-founder of the Revlon/UCLA Women's Cancer Research Program, and the EIF. The New York and Los Angeles Run/Walk events together have distributed over $50 million for women’s cancer research, counseling and outreach programs nationwide.[citation needed]

In 2006, Perelman donated over $60 million to various charitable groups and causes including Carnegie Hall and the World Trade Center Memorial.[54] Other notable donations include $20 million to the University of Pennsylvania for naming rights to the quadrangle,[55] $10 million to New York University to create the Ronald O. Perelman Department of Dermatology,[56] $4.7 million to Princeton University to create the Ronald Perelman Institute for Jewish Studies,[57] and $20 million to the Guggenheim Museum.[58]

In February 2008, Perelman made a $50 million donation to the New York Presbyterian Hospital and Weill Cornell Medical Center to create the Ronald O. Perelman Heart Institute, and to provide vital financial aid to the Ronald O. Perelman and Claudia Cohen Center for Reproductive Medicine.[56]

In 2008, the Chronicle of Philanthropy listed Perelman as the 26th largest donor in the U.S. That year, Perelman donated $63.5 million to causes including, but not limited to: Weill Medical College of Cornell University, Stand Up to Cancer (SU2C), World Trade Center Memorial Fund and Ford's Theatre.

Perelman pledged $25 million to Weill Medical College, in New York, to support research, education, and patient care at the Ronald O. Perelman and Claudia Cohen Center for Reproductive Medicine. Perelman also pledged $15 million to Stand Up to Cancer, a Pasadena, Calif., organization that supports cancer research and efforts to advance treatment for cancer patients; $5-million to the World Trade Center Memorial Fund, in New York; and $2.5 million to Ford's Theatre, in Washington.

Perelman also gave a total of $16 million to 581 nonprofit organizations, including Big Brothers Big Sisters, in Philadelphia; the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research, in New York; the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, in Baltimore; the Rainforest Foundation U.S., in New York; and other arts, education, Jewish, medical research, and women's-health groups. Perelman serves as a member of the Board of Directors of the Police Athletic League of New York City, a nonprofit youth development agency serving inner-city children and teenagers. On June 3, 2011, Perelman was honored for his charitable contributions at the New York Police Foundation's 40th Anniversary Gala [59] at the Waldorf Astoria in New York City – an event that raised $2.3 million for charity.

In August 2010, Perelman signed the Giving Pledge, committing up to half his assets to be designated for the benefit of charitable causes (after his family and children have been provided for).[citation needed]

Since 2010, Perelman has hosted annual benefits for the Apollo Theater, raising millions of dollars annually for the legendary venue.[60] Richard Gere and Carey Lowell, George Stephanopoulos and Ali Wentworth, former Secretary of State Colin Powell, Senator John McCain (R-AZ), Barbra Streisand have attended the events; performers have included Ben E. King, Sting, Bettye Lavette, Jon Bon Jovi, Jamie Foxx and Alicia Keys and more.

In 2011, Perelman's parents, Raymond and Ruth, donated $225 million to the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine,[61] the largest single donation to that university in its history, changing the school's name to the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. His mother, Ruth, died on July 31, 2011, at age 90 in Philadelphia.

In 2013, Perelman donated $50 million to the NYU Langone Medical Center to create the Ronald O. Perelman Center for Emergency Services.[62]

In 2013, Perelman donated $25 million to the University of Pennsylvania to create a new Center for its Economics and Political Science Departments.[63]

In May 2013, Perelman donated $100 million to the Columbia Business School, the graduate business school of Columbia University. The gift will be used to support the construction of new facilities in Manhattanville, including the Ronald O. Perelman Center for Business Innovation.[64]

In May 2015, Perelman succeeded Sanford I. Weill as Chairman of Carnegie Hall.[3]

In 2015, Perelman donated $500,000 each to Super PACs supporting the presidential candidacies of Lindsey Graham and Jeb Bush.[65]

Personal life


Perelman has been married five times. He married Sterling Bank heiress Faith Golding in 1965 and they divorced in 1984. His marriage to gossip columnist Claudia Cohen lasted from 1985 to 1994. He wed socialite Patricia Duff in 1995 and divorced in 1996. He was married to actress Ellen Barkin from 2000 to 2006.[66] On October 13, 2010, Perelman married Dr. Anna Chapman, a Harvard-educated psychiatrist.

Faith Golding

Perelman met his first wife, Faith Golding, in 1965 while on a cruise to Israel. As the heir to a fortune made in real estate and banking, Faith Golding controlled a personal fortune of around $100 million at the time of their marriage.[67] They adopted three children named Steven, Josh, and Hope, and Faith gave birth to a fourth child named Debra. Their marriage lasted until 1984 when Faith discovered Perelman was having an affair with a local florist after a bill for a Bulgari bracelet was sent to their home instead of Perelman's office. Faith threatened to scuttle Perelman's attempt to take MacAndrews & Forbes private in 1983 by staking a claim to a third of it due to a bank loan in her name. She further declared that Perelman defrauded the owners of the First Sterling Corporation (i.e. her) by buying thousands of dollars of gifts for the florist with the company's money, and made a very public spectacle of the divorce. Perelman responded by hiring Roy Cohn and flatly denying all of the allegations. The pair quickly settled the divorce with an estimated payout to Faith in excess of $8 million.[68]

Claudia Cohen

Ronald and Samantha Perelman

Perelman met his second wife, Claudia Cohen, in 1984 at Le Cirque. They had one daughter together, Samantha, in 1990. In August 1993, Ron filed for divorce.[69] Claudia left the marriage with well over $80 million.[69] In 2007, Claudia died after a secret seven-year battle with ovarian cancer. Perelman revealed during his speech at her funeral that he'd known about her cancer from the beginning and privately commissioned a vaccine as a part of his efforts to cure her.[70] In March 2008, Perelman decided to change the name of Logan Hall, located at the University of Pennsylvania, to Cohen Hall, after his late ex-wife.[71] He donated $20 million to the University to remodel what is now Perelman Quadrangle and as part of his donation, he had the option to change the name of Logan Hall. His decision to rename Logan Hall dismayed some Penn faculty, alumni, and students.[72]

Patricia Duff

Patricia Duff was Perelman's third wife. The pair first met in a Paris hotel lobby when both were still married: Perelman to Cohen, and Duff to Mike Medavoy.[73] After Duff divorced Medavoy, Duff converted to Judaism[74] and married Perelman, on January 25, 1995. She gave birth to his fourth daughter, Caleigh Sophia, before the wedding took place.[75] When the marriage between Duff and Perelman disintegrated in 1996, custody over Caleigh became a major issue. Both Perelman and Duff wanted full custody and their prenuptial agreement did not address the subject of child support. Initially private, the divorce proceedings were opened to the public at the request of Duff.[76] Neither party emerged with their reputations unscathed. The court psychiatrist found Duff to be paranoid and narcissistic and Perelman to have serious anger management issues,[77] Perelman caught a great deal of flak for testifying that it cost about $3 a day to feed his daughter,[78] and both sides alleged physical abuse by the other party.[79] The judge's sealed decision means the public will never know the exact results of the case,[76] but it's known that neither party actually won. Perelman is Caleigh's legal guardian, but Patricia has extensive visitation rights.[80]

Ellen Barkin

Ellen Barkin

Perelman met his fourth wife, actress Ellen Barkin, at a Vanity Fair Oscar after-party in 1999.[81] After slightly more than a year of courtship, the two married in June 2000. All accounts indicate their five-year marriage was a stormy one. Much of the friction arose due to Barkin's acting career and her attendant travel schedule. Perelman filed and obtained a divorce in early 2006. The press soundly mocked Perelman for his actions, the speed and timing of which suggested his real motivation was to avoid a clause in his prenuptial that would raise the amount in alimony he owed Barkin if he waited a few days longer. Depending on the source used, Barkin's yearly alimony ranges from $2 million to $3 million and the total payout ranged from $20 million to $65 million.[82] In late 2007, the pair exchanged lawsuits. Part of the divorce settlement required Perelman to invest several million dollars in a film production company Barkin and her brother George (an aspiring screenwriter) had started. Perelman made only one of the payments, claiming that there was no evidence the two were actually producing films. Barkin sued for her money while Perelman counter-sued, alleging Barkin and her brother had looted the film company for themselves.[83]

Anna Chapman

Perelman began dating psychiatrist Dr. Anna Chapman, in mid-2006.[84] In August 2010, they announced they are expecting a baby—her first, his seventh—via a surrogate.[85] In October 2010, they were married.[86] Chapman is a convert to Judaism.[87] In late November 2010, the couple celebrated the birth of their son, Oscar.[88] The couple later had a second child in May 2012.


Judaism has had a strong influence on Perelman's life. He grew up in a Conservative household. The temple he went to growing up was a Reconstructionist temple,[89] and his father has donated millions to Conservative causes.[90] He had a religious reawakening at the age of eighteen while on a family trip to Israel.[80] "I felt not just this enormous pride at being a Jew; I felt this enormous void at not being a better Jew. So I decided then to begin being a better Jew. As soon as I got married, we kept a kosher house, we became much more observant. We moved to New York shortly thereafter and joined an Orthodox synagogue and the kids grew up with much more Judaism surrounding them than I ever did".[80] Today, he strictly observes the Jewish Sabbath, spends three hours every Saturday in prayer,[91] keeps a kosher home,[92] and donates millions to Jewish groups and causes, particularly the Chabad-Lubavitch sect.[91] He does not consider himself to be a member of Lubavitch. He supports them because he thinks they are Judaism's best chance for surviving and thriving in modern society.[80]


"Près Choisis" in 1905.

Perelman is the owner of "Près Choisis" (now called "The Creeks"), a 40-room Mediterranean-style villa on Georgica Pond in East Hampton, Long Island. It was built in 1899 by the artists Adele and Albert Herter.


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