Perelman Selling Almost Everything as Pandemic Roils His Empire
(Bloomberg) — Bit by bit, billionaire Ronald O. Perelman is parting with his treasures.His Gulfstream 650 is on the market. So is his 257-foot yacht. Movers hauled crates of art from his Upper East Side townhouse after he struck a deal with Sotheby’s to sell hundreds of millions of dollars of works.He’s unloaded his stake in Humvee-maker AM General, sold a flavorings company that he’d owned for decades and hired banks to find buyers for stock he holds in other companies.What in the world is going on with Ron Perelman? His exploits on and off Wall Street have been tabloid fare in New York since the go-go 1980s. But now, at an age when most fellow billionaires are kicking back, Perelman, 77, is facing a range of financial challenges, most of all at Revlon Inc., his cosmetics giant.Once touted as America’s richest man, his wealth has dropped from $19 billion to $4.2 billion in the past two years, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.Bankers, socialites and art collectors have been buzzing about Perelman since his investment company, MacAndrews & Forbes, said in July it would rework its holdings in response to the coronavirus pandemic and the ravages it caused to American businesses, including his own.“We quickly took significant steps to react to the unprecedented economic environment that we were facing,” Perelman said in a statement. “I have been very public about my intention to reduce leverage, streamline operations, sell some assets and convert those assets to cash in order to seek new investment opportunities and that is exactly what we are doing.”Read Ronald O. Perelman’s full statement herePerelman also gave more prosaic reasons for the shift, including spending time with his family during lockdown and a desire for a simpler life.“I realized that for far too long, I have been holding onto too many things that I don’t use or even want,” he said. “I concluded that it’s time for me to clean house, simplify and give others the chance to enjoy some of the beautiful things that I’ve acquired just as I have for decades.”Graydon Carter, the former editor of Vanity Fair who’s known Perelman for three decades, said the shift in Perelman’s attitude is sincere.“Often when people say this sort of thing, it’s masking something else. In Ronald’s case, it’s true,” said Carter, who partnered with Perelman to reopen the Monkey Bar in Midtown Manhattan. “He has learned to love and appreciate the bourgeois comforts of family and home.”Carter described Perelman as a “charismatic swashbuckler” who once enjoyed evenings on the New York social circle a little too much. But he said Perelman is now “crazy about spending time at home” with his fifth wife Anna, a psychiatrist, and their two young sons.Richard Hack, who wrote a 1996 unauthorized biography of Perelman, is skeptical.“If you want a simpler life, you go buy a farm in Oklahoma, not sell a painting out of your townhouse in Manhattan,” Hack said.