The Feud That’s Shaking Gallery Walls
Ronald O. Perelman slides into a chair in his office surrounded by proof of his “wall power”: an Andy Warhol print, a Roy Lichtenstein landscape and one of Cy Twombly’s giant squiggle paintings.
Mr. Perelman has collected art for as long as he’s been collecting companies. His trove of postwar and contemporary work, amassed over more than 30 years and spread among his Manhattan townhouse, East Hampton estate and 257-foot yacht, is estimated to be worth more than $1 billion.
Today, however, he wants to exhibit a different side of the art world. Through a lawsuit against his former friend and art dealer Larry Gagosian, Mr. Perelman has set out to expose what he calls the “dirty” side of the glamorous, opaque, $60-billion business of buying and selling high-end art.
“Art is such a beautiful thing,” Mr. Perelman told me recently in his first interview on the subject. “But it’s been sullied by an ugly business. It needs to be fixed.”
Mr. Perelman has his own share of critics, of course. This 71-year-old billionaire C.E.O. of MacAndrews & Forbes Holdings — which owns or controls companies including Revlon, Scientific Games and Deluxe Entertainment — is better known for his public divorces and hardball business tactics than he is for moralizing about market reform. He is one of the most sophisticated players in the art market, with his own special art fund and curator. He is the consummate insider.