Key Words: Once hailed as ‘America’s richest man,’ he’s now raising cash by selling his jet, 257-foot yacht and loads of art

Key Words: Once hailed as ‘America’s richest man,’ he’s now raising cash by selling his jet, 257-foot yacht and loads of art

21 Sep    Finance News

Ronald Perelman

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Ron Perelman, why are you selling all your stuff?

‘I realized that for far too long, I have been holding onto too many things that I don’t use or even want. 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.’

That’s part of Perelman’s excuse for selling his private jet, his 257-foot yacht and hundreds of millions of dollars worth of art, according to a statement quoted by Bloomberg News. He’s also dumped his stake in Humvee-maker AM General, sold a flavorings company and hired bankers to help him find buyers for positions he holds in other companies.

Perelman, once “America’s richest man” with a net worth approaching $20 billion, has seen his wealth drop to $4.2 billion over the past couple of years, as mounting financial challenges have pushed him further down the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

So, are all those high-priced sales really just an effort to “simplify” and “give others the chance” to enjoy Perelman’s vast collection of treasures?

“Often when people say this sort of thing, it’s masking something else. In Ronald’s case, it’s true,” Graydon Carter, the former editor of Vanity Fair who’s know Perelman for three decades, told Bloomberg. “He has learned to love and appreciate the bourgeois comforts of family and home.”

Carter added that Perelman is now “crazy” about spending time at his home with Anna, his fifth wife, and their two young sons.

But Richard Hack, the author behind a 1996 biography of Perelman, isn’t buying it.

“If you want a simpler life, you go buy a farm in Oklahoma, not sell a painting out of your townhouse in Manhattan,” he told Bloomberg. “If he’s selling his art, it’s because he needs cash.”

And that cash, according to sources cited in the story, will be used to pay down loans at Citigroup C, -1.47%. He also took out loans related to his artwork from JPMorgan Chase JPM, -0.21%, Bank of America BAC, -0.55% and UBS UBS, -1.95%.

A spokesman for Perelman told Bloomberg that these are not forced sales.

Meanwhile, Perelman, who rose to prominence during the Michael Milken junk bond takeover era, continues to grapple with how the coronavirus pandemic has impacted his investments , particularly when it comes to Revlon REV, -2.92%, a company he bought in 1985 for $1.74 billion but is now valued at $365 million with $3 billion in debt, according to Bloomberg.

“I have spent my entire career making deals and have been through tough cycles before, but the pandemic caught both the government and business community by surprise,” Perelman acknowledged in a statement.

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