The billionaire investor and Revlon owner Ron Perelman has recently been selling off assets, from his stake in the Humvee-maker AM General to a pair of paintings by Joan Miró and Henri Matisse. Sotheby’s sold the canvases for $37.3 million last month, but the art portion of his liquidation turned out to be just beginning. Bloomberg reported on Thursday that the auction house is now looking to sell hundreds of millions of dollars worth of Perelman’s collection.
Best known for his hostile takeovers and divorces, Perelman has also amassed an art collection totaling about $3 billion, according to the outlet. In 2014, during a feud with Larry Gagosian, he gave an interview to the New York Times in his office while flanked by works by Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, and Cy Twombly. Perelman’s collection, Bloomberg said, also includes paintings by Mark Rothko and Willem de Kooning and sculptures by Alberto Giacometti and Jeff Koons.
Bloomberg reported that the art sales will be used in part to repay a loan at Citigroup. (Spokespeople for Perelman and Citigroup didn’t comment.) Vanity Fair’s William Cohan noted earlier this month that Perelman’s net worth has fallen roughly 63% in two years—bringing him all the way down to $7.6 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. Their latest figure has him at $4.72 billion. He has been laying off and furloughing staff at his holding company, MacAndrews & Forbes.
Famously press-averse, Perelman took the unusual step of trying to explain his recent liquidation to Cohan in an email. “Over the past six months I’ve been mostly at home like most New Yorkers,” he wrote. “A simpler life, with less running around and more time with my family, including homeschooling our youngest children, has energized me and taught me new things. For the future, I will spend my time more with my family and all my children, seeking new investment opportunities, and running our [portfolio] companies.”
While the coronavirus pandemic has not exactly bankrupted Perelman, it has, he claims, spurred him to take action. “Art is such a beautiful thing,” he told the Times in 2014. “But it’s been sullied by an ugly business. It needs to be fixed.”
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