Samantha, 22, is Perelman’s daughter from his second marriage to the late gossip columnist Claudia Cohen. She alleges that her uncle took advantage of her dying grandfather, Robert Cohen, to rewrite his will three times – and cheat her out of an inheritance.
While Ron Perelman has been paying for her legal battle with the Cohen family in Manhattan and New Jersey, the frustrated heiress insists she’s the one who will be leading the fight when the case goes to trial.
“There is this misconception that it’s two battling tycoons on each side of the Hudson,” Samantha said in an interview with the Daily News. “This is my case. This is my fight. It has nothing to do with my father. I’m lucky to have a supportive father.”
In court, James Cohen has denied Samantha’s charges. He says his father always intended to give him the family business, which he helped run for 30 years. He is now suggesting in court papers that his father effectively disinherited Samantha because he couldn’t stand her father.
Claudia Cohen wrote a gossip column for the Daily News in the 1980s called “I, Claudia” and also appeared on NBC’s local news program “Life at Five” She was married to Perelman from 1985 to 1994 – a highly publicized union that produced Samantha and ended in a bitter divorce. Cohen died of cancer in 2007. Following his divorce from Cohen, Perelman married Patricia Duff, divorced her, and then married actress Ellen Barkin, who he also divorced. He is currently married to fifth wife Anna Chapman, a psychiatrist who converted to Judaism to marry the deeply religious Perelman.
Claudia Cohen left the bulk of her fortune – then valued at approximately $60 million – to 16-year-old Samantha. She also made Perelman her executor. But Cohen was dead only three weeks in 2007 when her brother notified Samantha that he intended to exercise his right to buy out her share of the family’s $60 million Palm Beach mansion for book value – $178,000 – instead of market value, which was $11 million. That letter triggered an explosion of litigation.
In Florida, Ron Perelman challenged – as his ex-wife’s executor – the Palm Beach deal. He lost.
In New Jersey, Perelman – again as executor – tried to get the courts to agree that Robert Cohen was mentally incompetent and needed a guardian. He lost that battle, too.
Ron Perelman, 70, is the 26th richest American, and 69th richest person in the world, with an estimated wealth of $12 billion. He has owned a majority stake in Revlon since he took control of it in 1985 in a hostile takeover.
Samantha is currently in Los Angeles, where the Columbia grad student is working for the summer.