Perelman Daughter Battles Uncle Over Inheritance

Mar 13 2014 | 10:48am ET

Buyout kingpin Ronald Perelman has rarely shied away from a fight, and his daughter has inherited that combativeness—as demonstrated by her lawsuit against her uncle for allegedly making off with another part of her inheritance.

This week, Samantha Perelman’s uncle, James Cohen, took the stand to defend himself against allegations that he manipulated his ailing father to deprive Perelman and her late mother, Claudia Cohen, of hundreds of millions of dollars they were entitled to. James and Claudia’s father, Robert Cohen, was the founder of periodical wholesaler Hudson Media; the company is now led by James.

According to Perelman, her uncle exerted “undue influence” over her grandfather, using his illness and inability to speak to cut her and her mother’s share of his fortune. She’s asking a New Jersey state court to uphold a 2004 will, one that would increase her share of the pie.

On the stand, James Cohen made no attempt to hide how close he was to his father. He spoke of his regular lunches with his father and their frequent talks, and about how he started working for Hudson at the age of 15.

He also defended Hudson’s 2008 sale of its media business to private equity firm Advent International. According to Perelman, her uncle pocketed the entire $600 million proceeds from that deal, some of which should have gone to her and to her grandfather, who died in 2012, she alleges. James Cohen denies that he hid information about the sale from his father, testifying that he approved of the move.

The trial, which began in September, is the second such battle; Perelman’s father lost a 2008 case filed after Claudia Cohen’s death in 2007.

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