News | Morningside Heights

Major Manhattanville donor's daughter sues uncle for millions

The family of Ronald O. Perelman, one of Manhattanville’s largest donors, is engaged in some multimillion dollar courtroom drama.

According to the New York Times’ DealBook blog, Samantha Perelman, Business ’14 and Ronald Perelman's daughter, is suing her uncle James Cohen for quietly reducing her inheritance by hundreds of millions of dollars.

When she goes to court this week, Perelman will argue that Cohen used “undue influence” to convince her grandfather Robert Cohen, founder of Hudson Media, to reduce her almost $700 million inheritance in the years leading to Robert Cohen’s death.

Perelman wants the court to revert to a 2004 will that left her mother, Claudia Cohen, hundreds of millions of dollars. Claudia Cohen died in 2007, and the money would go to her daughter instead.

Both sides have already reached at least $60 million in legal bills, according to lawyers contacted by DealBook, and the lawsuit has a list of more than 40 witnesses, which could take weeks to hear.

“What he did was greedy and not nice,” Perelman told DealBook. Although the numbers in the lawsuit run into the hundreds of millions, Ronald Perelman said he doesn’t stand to gain from the fight.

Courtesy of Columbia Business School
UPTOWN LIFE | A rendering of the Manhattanville Business School facilities, to which Perelman has donated a hundred million dollars.

Perelman is the financier and chairman of cosmetics giant Revlon, and has an estimated worth of $13.7 billion. Cohen’s wealth was amassed after he founded Hudson Media, which runs newspaper and magazine stores in airports and train stations.

In May, Perelman donated $100 million to Columbia for the Ronald O. Perelman Center for Business Innovation under construction in Manhattanville. He is also a member of the Business School’s Board of Overseers.

“The business landscape is changing rapidly and dramatically, and as such the principles that define strong business leadership—such as an entrepreneurial mindset and solving complex challenges—are more important now than ever before,” Perelman said in May.

christian.zhang@columbiaspectator.com  |  @christizhang

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