Will Ronald Perelman Turn Carnegie Hall into Madison Square Garden?

Ron Perelman in 2014. Photo by Jimi Celeste, courtesy of Patrick McMullan.

Carnegie Hall has a new head honcho, and he’s not that fond of classical music.

Billionaire art collector Ronald Perelman will succeed Sanford I. Weill, Carnegie Hall’s chairman for nearly 25 years. Pointing out that the Beatles and the Rolling Stones played at the landmark concert hall in the 1960s, along with the aging of the classical music audience, Perelman says it may be time to appeal to the screaming masses again, high-ranking Carnegie staffers told the New York Times.

One hopes he won’t bring all his business practices to his management of the nonprofit; Perelman’s companies paid $1.57 million in settlements in 2013 in suits brought by the federal government.

Perelman is the chairman of the Revlon cosmetics company and owner of holding company MacAndrews & Forbes, which invests in industries including cosmetics  as well as biotech and military equipment. The latter company agreed in 2013 to pay $720,000 in civil penalties for violating antitrust laws. Revlon, a week prior, had agreed to pay the Securities and Exchange Commission $850,000 to settle charges that it had deceived shareholders and its independent directors, the Times reported.

According to Forbes, Perelman’s net worth is $14.5 billion. He sits on the board of the Museum of Modern Art and has served as president of the Guggenheim board. Perelman has been a Carnegie trustee since 1988 and a member of its executive committee since 2010, and assumed the post of vice chairman in 2012, according to the Times, which also reports that he has already given about $30 million to the organization. Its current fundraising goal is $125 million by May 2016.

Perelman is also known in the art world for an unsuccessful suit against Larry Gagosian, in which he accused the mega-dealer of overvaluing works he sold to him as well as undervaluing works he bought from him, including artworks by Jeff Koons and Richard Serra (see Ronald Perelman’s Lawsuit Against Larry Gagosian is Dismissed). Gagosian also sued Perelman for nonpayment, though he withdrew that suit.

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