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.


  1. People are complicated. And attitudes are formed by foundational experiences.

    Consider that the guy showed up in NYC in 1960 with $250 in his pocket, knowing not a soul; that he hustled a living reading Hebrew funeral services for tips, and as a street vendor, selling novelties on the sidewalks of Manhattan.

    Forget about inadequate indoor plumbing: When Ike got his start, he didn’t even have an indoors. That’ll give you a certain perspective.

  2. @snikt snakt
    Wouldn’t be funny if the research he helped foster saved your life or a loved ones. Talk about some bitter medicine!

  3. Shoot, I hope that 50 million pays for a urologist or two, to treat the marvel employees who have to hold their piss in for 10 hours at a time.

  4. I didn’t know he’s ex-Mossad. That’s actually kind of scary. (Is there even such a thing as “ex”-Mossad? Sort of like how incredibly influential people will be “ex”-CIA “wink-wink”.) Great article, though, and his charitableness is applause-worthy.

  5. “@snikt snakt
    Wouldn’t be funny if the research he helped foster saved your life or a loved ones. Talk about some bitter medicine!”

    Swampy, I didn’t say I was against his donating $$$ to help Cancer research. Stop putting words in my mouth.

    I just have no interest in HEARING about what he does or doesn’t do, in general. Get it?

  6. This article should include Ike’s fortune and rough yearly income. Otherwise it’s just PR for a man literally throwing chump change at a few things to appear like he’s a “good guy”. And let’s not forget the tax implications of his donating.

    So let’s hear what percentage of his wealth he *actually* donated? $50 million could be found in the back of his couch!

    Sorry but throwing a few pennies at something should never trump how that rich person built their fortune on the backs of hard working people.

    There should be a kickstarter to raise funds to pay the first person to get a photo of this guy!

  7. Though I’m sure it’s a drop in the bucket for Mr. Perlmutter, the contribution will do wonders for a field that deals with and tries to heal one of the most terrifying forms of disease and death known to humankind.
    From the article it seems that he has donated large amounts over the years that haven’t been widely reported, and I hope he & his wife continue this in the future.

    I do find it interesting that people question his attitude toward cost-cutting and saving money as something that is “weird”…..has our culture changed so much because of outsourcing jobs to 3rd-World Nations that we’ve forgotten a successful business must be frugal at times? I’m sure if Disney outsourced all of Marvel’s jobs to India or Pakistan or Yemen then they could use all the paperclips they want and no one would care….

  8. @ John Doyle
    Uh, I think that fortune and the “pennies” he “threw at something” was built with his hard work too. You sound completely jealous of him.

  9. It’s admirable that Perlmutter has donated so significantly to NYU and to the Cancer Research Institute that now bears his name, but like most extremely wealthy people, he’s basically donated to groups and organizations that help the extremely wealthy, with any help going to the rest us being a byproduct.

    Think about it: NYU is an expensive, private university. Cancer strikes everyone and doesn’t care how much you make or are worth. In the event Perlmutter or someone like him gets cancer, you can be sure that they will be treated first with any promising cancer treatments before any of the hoi polloi.

    The reality is, he donates like most of the extremely wealthy: helping causes that help them. If something comes out of it for the rest of us, that’s an accident.

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