Ronald Owen Perelman

Ronald Owen Perelman is a distinguished American businessman and investor, renowned for his expertise in leveraged buyouts. Known for his formidable portfolio of holdings, he has been instrumental in reshaping the corporate landscape of various industries.

Early life

Perelman was born on January 1, 1943, in Greensboro, North Carolina. His parents were Ruth (née Caplan) and Raymond G. Perelman. He grew up in Elkins Park, Pennsylvania, as part of a Jewish family and is the grandson of Litvak immigrants. His family was involved in managing the American Paper Products Corporation, but Raymond later left the company and purchased Belmont Iron Works, a structural steel manufacturer.

In 1962, Perelman graduated from The Haverford School in Haverford, Pennsylvania. His father played a significant role in teaching him the basics of business. By the time Perelman turned eleven, he was already attending board meetings for his father’s company. A detailed article published in Forbes 400 in 2006 discussed their complex relationship.

Initially, Perelman enrolled in the Villanova School of Business for one semester before transferring to the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. He pursued a business major and obtained his MBA from Wharton in 1966.

In September 2017, Forbes magazine recognized Perelman as one of the “100 Greatest Living Business Minds.”


Perelman’s career began at his father’s company, Belmont Industries, where he learned the ropes of the business world. He went on to form MacAndrews & Forbes Incorporated, a company that would serve as a vehicle for his future acquisitions. Through MacAndrews & Forbes, he made his name by acquiring undervalued companies and turning them around through innovative strategies and management changes.

His first major acquisition was the jewelry company Cohen-Hatfield Industries in 1978. This was quickly followed by others like Technicolor, Inc., Consolidated Cigar Corporation, and Revlon. Over the decades, his business footprint expanded into various industries, such as cosmetics, entertainment, biotechnology, and more.

In 1978, Perelman orchestrated the purchase of Cohen-Hatfield Jewelers, marking his first independent deal as an investor. This move, free from his father’s influence, required a loan from his wife, Faith Golding. Within a year, Perelman successfully sold off all of the company’s retail locations and focused solely on the profitable wholesale jewelry division, resulting in a $15 million profit.

Perelman later acquired MacAndrews & Forbes, a company involved in distributing licorice extract and chocolate. Despite facing resistance from management and investors who attempted to block the acquisition through a lawsuit, Perelman emerged victorious. In 1983, he began selling bonds to acquire the remaining 66% stake in MacAndrews & Forbes Group Inc., leading to the privatization of MacAndrews & Forbes Group Inc.

During the same year, MacAndrews & Forbes also acquired Technicolor Inc. and made additional purchases such as Consolidated Cigar Holdings Ltd. and Video Corporation of America in 1984. The divisions of Technicolor Inc. were subsequently sold off, with the core business sold to Carlton Communications in 1988 at a price 6.5 times higher than the purchase price. Using the proceeds from the Technicolor division’s sale, MacAndrews & Forbes bought a 20% stake in Compact Video Inc., a television and film syndication company, in 1986.

In 1989, Perelman expanded his acquisitions by purchasing New World Entertainment, with David Charnay’s Four Star Television becoming part of Ronald Perelman’s Compact Video. The ownership of Compact Video Inc. increased to 40% after the buyout of Four Star International. After Compact Video shut down, its remaining assets, including Four Star, were integrated into MacAndrews & Forbes Incorporated. In the same year, Perelman acquired New World Entertainment, with Four Star becoming a division of New World. The purchase of Four Star International was negotiated through a golden parachute deal with David Charnay after Perelman’s stock purchases in 1989.

By the end of 1989, MacAndrews refinanced its junk bonds with standard bank loans. In January 1990, the majority of New World’s film and home video holdings were sold to Trans-Atlantic Pictures, a newly formed production company established by a group of former New World executives.

MacAndrews & Forbes, under Perelman’s leadership as chairman and CEO, transformed into a holding company with diversified interests in various public and private companies. Marvel Comics was one of the company’s holdings, which eventually declared bankruptcy during Perelman’s tenure and was sold off in 1997. Presently, MacAndrews & Forbes holds stakes in Deluxe, Revlon, SIGA Technologies, VTV, and as of late 2019, 39% of Scientific Games. However, in Q3 2019, the company engaged Goldman Sachs to explore strategic alternatives for Revlon. Perelman has also engaged in deals with other notable companies such as Revlon Corporation, thrifts (renamed First Gibraltar Bank), Coleman Company, Sunbeam Products, and New World Entertainment.

Perelman’s knack for spotting potential in struggling businesses and his bold, sometimes controversial approach to restructuring them cemented his reputation as a corporate raider. Despite experiencing setbacks and criticism for his aggressive strategies, he demonstrated an uncanny ability to rebound and maintain his status as a major player in the business world. Perelman is a private individual, but he maintains a respectable presence in various social circles. His influence extends beyond the business world into art, culture, and philanthropy. He is a notable figure at various social events and galas in New York City, where he resides.

A passionate supporter of the arts, Perelman serves on the board of the Museum of Modern Art and has contributed significantly to various cultural institutions. Despite his successes and wealth, he has always emphasized the importance of giving back to society, underlining his character as a businessman and a philanthropist.

Perelman’s career and life journey, from his early days at his father’s company to his vast empire of businesses, represents the quintessential American success story. His shrewd business strategies, tenacity, and commitment to philanthropy have indelibly shaped his legacy as a trailblazer in the corporate world and beyond.

Net Worth

As of 2023, Perelman’s net worth is estimated to be $6.5 billion, placing him among the wealthiest individuals in the United States.


Perelman’s successful ventures and business prowess have made him a notable figure in the world of finance and investments, including:

Successful ventures and business prowess
Notable figure in finance and investments
Significant philanthropic activities, donating hundreds of millions to education, healthcare, and the arts
Received the Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy in 2008 for charitable contributions
Commitment to giving back to society and making a positive impact
Multifaceted achievements encompassing business success and philanthropy