Perelman to Step Down as Carnegie Hall Board Chair

Carnegie Hall board chair Ronald O. Perelman has told the board's executive committee that he will step down in October amid an ongoing clash with the institution's executive and artistic director, the Wall Street Journal reports.

In a letter emailed to board members on September 16, Perelman, who succeeded Sanford I. Weill as board chair in February, accused the institution of lacking transparency and approving "related-party transactions," in which the individuals involved have a relationship prior to the deal, without sufficient oversight. Perelman wrote that he detected in the spring "a troubling lack of transparency and openness" in the way executive and artistic director Clive Gillinson interacted with him and the board. "My concerns initially arose because of an inability to obtain a full picture of Carnegie Hall's financial operations, especially as it related to profits and losses involving performances," wrote Perelman. "I was told that such financial information was never shared with the board or even the chairman."

The issue of related-party transactions concerned Gillinson's handling of the Warner Music Prize, which was created with support from the family foundation of board member Len Blavatnik and for which Gillinson executed a contract "without the approval mandated by New York law," according to Perelman's letter. Perelman and the hall's treasurer suspended Gillinson in August, then called a meeting of the executive committee, which reinstated him the next day.

At an executive committee meeting on September 17, Perelman expressed frustration that his fellow board members had been slow to investigate his concerns and said he would not stand for election as board chair next month, people familiar with the situation told the Journal. Board members at the meeting said they would go forward with an inquiry into Perelman's accusations about the lack of transparency and oversight.

"In serving Carnegie Hall for ten years, I am very proud of everything we have achieved together," Gillinson told the Journal on September 16. "I love the hall and everything it stands for, and will continue to give it my all."

Jennifer Smith, Gregory Zuckerman. "Ron Perelman Bowing Out as Carnegie Hall Board Chairman." Wall Street Journal 09/17/2015. "Discord Breaks Out at Carnegie Hall." Wall Street Journal 09/16/2015.