Ike Perlmutter, billionaire, CEO of Marvel and one of Disney’s largest stockholders, is probably the most feared man in comics. A mysterious and powerful figure who would probably be a great antagonist in a Marvel comic, he’s the guy who helped make Marvel the behemoth it is today, but he’s also a legendary skinflint and media-phobe who hasn’t allowed himself to be photographed in 30 years, possibly because he was once a member of the Mossad, Israel’s black ops. Since getting himself a seat on Disney’s board, he’s brought his brand of budget cutting to Disney, bashed heads with Bob Iger, and generally been a terror.
Although this side of Perlmutter is well-known, what isn’t as well known is that he’s also a major philanthropist.
Yes you read that right. The guy who flew into a rage over the number of paper clips used at Marvel has also donated $50 million to Advance Cancer Research and Treatment at NYU Langone Medical Center , along with his wife Laura. And it’s only an “initial gift.” Thanks to the donation, the NYU Cancer Institute—one of the most respected research facilities in the US— has been renamed the Laura and Isaac Perlmutter Cancer Center at NYU Langone.
The Perlmutters had previously donated $8 million to NYU, and it’s part of a long relationship.
“For three decades Laurie and Ike have, with generosity and foresight, supported our programs,” said NYU Langone dean and CEO Robert I. Grossman, MD. “Now, this recent gift will allow the Medical Center’s already world-class cancer care, research, and education programs to become truly integrated across all disciplines, regardless of their physical locations within our growing care network. Their gift ensures that all facilities embraced by the new Perlmutter Cancer Center will have a dynamic infrastructure in place to strengthen the bridges between our scientists and clinicians. The naming of the Perlmutter Cancer Center is a tribute to our Super Hero supporters for their tireless efforts on behalf of our institution.”
“Laurie and Ike’s commitment to the Perlmutter Cancer Center will have a transformational impact on the entire field,” said Dr. Grossman.
“Our scientists and clinical researchers have made important contributions to the knowledge about the genetic and biochemical mechanisms by which cancer arises and behaves,” said Dafna Bar-Sagi, PhD, senior vice president and vice dean for science, and chief scientific officer at NYU School of Medicine. “We are now at a moment in history when there are great opportunities to make bold advances in cancer research. Simultaneously, the research community as a whole faces extreme challenges, contending with plunging national research budget cuts. The generosity of the Perlmutters at this critical time will allow us to continue to focus on the prevention and treatment of cancer and realize the full potential of the extraordinary research that goes on at NYU Langone.”
While the word “generosity” and “Ike Perlmutter” are rarely seen close together, it’s likely that part of this is due to the efforts of Mrs. Perlmutter, who has been a women’s auxiliary volunteer in the hospital’s gift shop, later becoming president of the Tisch Hospital Auxiliary from 1985 to 1992. She has also been a member of NYU Langone’s board of trustees since 1985, and of the Cancer Advisory Board since 2005.
While Ike never speaks to the press, Mrs. Perlmutter spoke for him.
“We are longtime supporters of the Medical Center, but the transformation of NYU Langone under the leadership of Dr. Grossman and of Ken Langone and Larry Fink, drove us to consider a much more significant level of support,” said Mrs. Perlmutter. “Both Larry and particularly Lori Fink, brought our attention to NYU Langone’s state-of-the-art advances in cancer research and treatment, and how a significant gift such as ours can catalyze even more dramatic results for the Center and the research community at large.”
So yeah. A good deed that will help hundreds of people. A lot of people have wondered why Ike, one of the world’s richest men, still has to pinch pennies and cut costs at Marvel and Disney. It’s safe to say he’s a driven man, but at least he has a cause that he is supporting. There are worse things you could do with your money.
I’m told that in Ike’s office there is a framed motto reading “Take nothing for granted.” Perhaps that applies in this case.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.