The net worths of the wealthiest people in the world have been growing at crazy rates. Part of the growth, of course, is a direct result of the tech boom that has been gaining steam over the past nearly three decades. Just ten years ago, in 2010, the 10 richest people in the world had a total wealth of $269.8 billion. Today, they are collectively worth $742 billion. That's an increase of 175%! Thirty years ago, in 1990, to make the list of the richest people in the U.S., one "only" had to be worth $260 million. Today, to be the poorest person on that list, you'd need a net worth of around $2 billion. In 1990, Ron Perelman then 47, had a net worth of $2.8 billion, and was the 3rd richest person in the U.S. Today, Perelman, 77, is worth $13 billion and he is the 37th richest American this year.
Ron Perelman was groomed for business from a young age. Perelman's father was a successful businessman who went on to teach his son the ins and outs of running a company. By 11, Ronald regularly attended meetings with his father and is said to have received very harsh criticism for even the slightest of business mistakes. While he was in college, he did his first major business deal. In 1961, he and his father Raymond bought the Esslinger Brewery for $800,000. They sold it three years later for a profit of $1 million. Perelman got his BA and MBA at the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania, graduating in 1964 and 1966, respectively. Perelman went to work for his father's company Belmont Industries and assisted his father in buying companies, selling off superfluous divisions to reduce debt and increase profit, bring the company back to its core business, and then either sell it or hang on to it for cash flow.
In 1978, 12 years after Perelman joined Belmont Industries, he was the executive vice president and chief operating officer. He wanted more. He wanted to be president and CEO. So he asked his dad. Raymond said no. Ron really thought his dad would say yes. He was shocked. Ron quit, moved to New York, and founded his own company. The first deal he did on his own was the purchase of Cohen-Hatfield Jewelers in 1978. Within a year, Perelman had sold all of the company's retail locations and reduced the company to its lucrative wholesale jewelry division, earning him $15 million.
Perelman then acquired MacAndrews & Forbes, a licorice extract and chocolate distributor. It was a hostile takeover that the management and investors fought. In 1983, Perelman sold bonds to acquire the remaining stakes in the company and took MacAndrews & Forbes private. From there he was off and running. He has investments in a wide range of industries including those dealing with groceries, cigars, licorice, makeup, cars, television, camping supplies, banks, comic book publishing, and more.
In 1990, Perelman was the third richest person in the U.S. The previous year, Perelman acquired New World Entertainment. In January 1990, he sold the bulk of New World's film and home video holdings to Trans-Atlantic Pictures, a newly formed production company founded by a consortium of former New World executives. Perelman then transformed MacAndrews & Forbes into a holding company with a diversified portfolio of public and private companies wholly owned by Perelman. Currently, Perelman owns Revlon, Deluxe, AM General, SIGA Technologies, and Scientific Games.
On a personal front, Perelman has been married five times and has eight children with four women. He married Faith Golding, a real estate and banking heiress in 1965. They adopted three children Steven, Josh, and Hope, before their biological child Debra was born. They divorced in 1984. He married gossip columnist Claudia Cohen in 1985. They had a daughter, Samantha in 1990 and divorced in 1995. Perelman married Patricia Duff in 1995. They had a daughter, named Caleigh, in 1996. That same year, the couple divorced. He married actress Ellen Barkin in 2000. They divorced in 2006. He married psychiatrist Anna Chapman in 2010. Perelman and Chapman have two children.
In 2007, Perelman's second wife Claudia Cohen died after a seven-year battle with ovarian cancer. Perelman privately commissioned a vaccine as part of his extensive efforts to cure her.
Every year since 2010, Perelman has hosted an annual benefit for the Apollo Theatre, raising millions for the iconic venue. Performers over the years have included Sting, Bettye Lavette, Jon Bon Jovi, Dave Matthews, Gwen Stefani, The Roots, Joe Walsh, Lionel Richie, Justin Timberlake, Pharrell Williams, Jamie Foxx, Alicia Keys, and more.
Perelman is a noted philanthropist and a member of the Giving Pledge. Through his company, he established the Revlon/UCLA Women's Cancer Research Program in 1994 for research into the causes and treatment of breast and ovarian cancer. The company also founded the Ronald O. Perelman Department of Dermatology at NYU Medical Center. Over the years, Perelman has also provided significant support for such organizations as the National Breast Cancer Coalition Fund, Carnegie Hall, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Hospital, and his alma mater, The University of Pennsylvania.