Regarding artwork, its value is subjective, fluctuating on personal opinions and feelings, dependent upon one’s taste rather than substantiated by facts alone. Yet, this doesn’t mean a pretty piece of art can’t hold a heavy price, as seen by the recently unsealed court filings of Ron Perelman, who sold 71 works by artists like Basquiat, Twombly, and Giacometti over a two-year period, accumulating almost $1 billion in sales from his private collection.

Known as a mega collector, Rob Perelman is reported to have sold off a significant portion of his private college to pay down debt after the Revoln stock plunged during the early days of the global pandemic. The Revlon company’s longtime boss had used his shares as collateral for loans from Deutsche Bank, who demanded more capital in his account, prompting the sales.

The recently unsealed court documents of the cosmetics investor reveal that between March 2020 and January 2022, Perelman sold 71 pieces of artwork that resulted in $963.3 million, with about $910.3 million going directly toward paying creditors. There are 25 different artists’ works among the 71 pieces sold, most of them being household names. The filings refer to the sales of eight works, each by Ellsworth Kelly and Cy Twombly, as well as seven by Ed Ruscha, and five works each by Andy Warhol, Brice Marden, and Roy Lichtenstein. 

But the sales continued. According to the documents, the investor also sold our works by Gerhard Richter; three each by Egon Schiele, Alberto Giacometti, Franz Kline, and Jasper Johns; and two each by Henri Matisse, Jean-Michel Basquiat, and Joan Miró. Other artists’ work was also among the reported sales, including Damien Hirst, Constantin Brâncuși, Blinky Palermo, Francis Bacon, and more. 

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These documents reveal the extent of Perelman’s art consignments, unsealing them led by an ongoing lawsuit between Perelman’s holding companies and insurance underwriters over the mega collector’s $410 million insurance claim. The high-stakes legal battle has been raging since mid-2020, with Perelman demanding $410 million in damages for five blue-chip artworks that suffered in a 2018 fire at his Hamptons estate, known as the Creeks. 

Perelman argues that five works in his East Hampton home lost “their lustre” after the fire, yet insurance company Lloyd’s of London argues that the reported works did not sustain any detectable damage and questions why Perelman waited two years to claim the damages—which happened to coincide with the plunge in Revlon shares. 

Lloyd’s of London argues that the five pieces in question – a Cy Twombly, two Ed Ruschas, and two Andy Warhols – were attempted to be sold by Perelman, despite what he has reported under oath. Furthermore, the insurers allege that Perelman sold two works in the house during the fire. 

The insurers’ filing argues that “it turns out he tried selling all five in dispute here… And while those efforts did not result in the selling any of the five paintings, he sold others (including one in the same room as three of them, and another just nine days before his examination) that were exposed to the same conditions.” This possible misbehavior by Perelman sheds doubt on the credibility of his $410 million claim, leaving the two opponents still on the battlefield.