Published On: Thu, Jul 10th, 2014

Ron Perelman’s Daughter Losing Estate Suit against Uncle

Samantha challenged her grandfather’s will, saying the old man was influenced by her uncle, James Cohen.

Ron Samantha perelman

James Cohen, of Palm Beach, FL, who received the sum of $600 million from his father, newsstand mogul Robert Cohen, who died from a degenerative disease in 2012, won a lawsuit brought against him by his niece, Samantha, the daughter of his late sister Claudia, who was divorced from Revlon chairman, billionaire Ron Perelman.

Claudia Cohen died in 2007.

Samantha challenged her grandfather’s will, saying the old man was influenced by her uncle, James, but, as is often the case when big money folks are involved, this was mostly about bad blood.

Robert Cohen was an Engelwood businessman, who built the Hudson News Company, making it a newsstand empire, spread across America’s airports and train stations, usually manned by Asian immigrants. Cohen sold much of Hudson in 2008, for more than $800 million.

You can’t take it with you, right?

Ron Perelman, acting as the executor of his ex-wife Claudia’s estate, argued in his lawsuit that his former father in law had lost the mental capacity to amend his wills and conduct his business. Cohen suffered from a rare form of Parkinson’s Disease that deprived him of walking and talking.

In August, 2009, Superior Court Judge Ellen Koblitz rejected most of Perelman’s claims, found Cohen competent and punished Perelman’s law firms with a $2 million fine for their “frivolous” claims.

Last October, the Appellate judges agreed that much of Perelman’s case was frivolous, because Robert Cohen’s original wills, way before the illness impacted his life, showed he never intended to split his estate evenly among his children.

Samantha, who is now 24, was cut out of her grandfather’s will. Instead, Uncle James got most of what would have been Claudia’s share of the estate, which would have then become Samantha’s. So she sued, demanding $25 million cash, a $5 million trust fund, use of the corporate jet, Grandpa Robert’s winter home in New Jersey and a share in the Cohens’ North County Road house.

Now New Jersey Superior Court Judge Estela De La Cruz killed the suit, ruling that Uncle James had not exercised undue influence over his father to change his will.

But the judge also ruled that Samantha’s suit was not frivolous, seeing as her grandfather’s failing health at the time of the will changes made them appear suspicious. So she ordered James Cohen, a securely rich man, to pay Samantha’s legal bills. He can afford it.

The Cohens and the Perelmans are not on friendly terms, that’s for sure. Their Chanukah get-togethers must be frosty. And what will become of poor Samantha, who now only has her father’s billions to rely on. Stay tuned.

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