NET WORTH: $12.3 billion
SOURCE OF WEALTH: MacAndrews & Forbes, Revlon
JEWISH FUNDING AREAS: Health, Israel, Religious, Education, Community
OVERVIEW: Ronald Perelman's Jewish heritage is important to him, and the billionaire has long been a significant contributor to organizations that advance and preserve that heritage. He gave millions to Princeton to fund the Ronald Perelman Institute for Jewish Studies. Machne Israel has been another big winner. Perelman and family move their philanthropic contributions through the Perelman Family Foundation, a low-profile vehicle that doesn't accept unsolicited proposals.
BACKGROUND: Ronald O. Perelman attended the Wharton School. After working under his father for more than a decade, he struck out on his own in 1978, first acquiring Hatfield Jewelers, and soon after a distributor of licorice extract and chocolate called MacAndrews & Forbes. MacAndrews & Forbes was eventually transformed into his holding company, and in 1985 made a successful play for Revlon.
FUNDING PROFILE: In the 1990s, Ronald Perelman gave Princeton University a gift of $4.7 million to create a multidisciplinary institute focusing on Jewish studies, establishing the Ronald O. Perelman Institute for Jewish Studies. In recent years, via the Perelman Family Foundation, Machne Israel is one big winner. The outfit is dedicated to the “the growth of Jewish life and the greater vision of Jewish continuity.” The family has also given large support to Ohr Torah Stone Campaign, a "Modern Orthodox educational and social justice movement shaping Jewish communities worldwide, fueled by the unique vision of founder Rabbi Shlomo," as well as Jewish National Fund.
Perelman's ex-wife battled ovarian cancer, and health is a big part of his overall philanthropy. Perelman's interest in health extends to his Jewish philanthropy as well. Consider the family's support of Ezer Mizion, which "offers an extensive range of medical and social support services to help Israel’s sick, disabled, elderly and underprivileged populations." The outfit is the largest Jewish bone marrow donor registry. Another grantee here has been Hurwitz Family Fund, which deals with ALS.
Perelman via his foundation has also supported education outfits like American Friends of Hebrew University, Sinai Schools, Jewish Educational Movement, and the Nison Pinson Foundation. Rabbi Nison Pinson was a survivor of Nazi Europe and Soviet communism and became a pioneer in Jewish education.
Other grantees have included UJA Federation of New York, PEF Israel Endowment Funds, and World Jewish Congress. While the foundation does not accept unsolcited proposals, Perelman's MacAndrews & Forbes Holdings has a website with a philanthropy page.
LOOKING FORWARD: Perelman's enormous wealth makes him worth keeping a strong eye on in the coming years. He's also a Giving Pledge signatory. For a more complete overview of this funder's giving, read our Wall Street Profile of Ronald O. Perelman.