Marvel’s Ike Perlmutter Finally Wins Libel Suit Over Hate Campaign
Posted on September 29, 2021 by Rich Johnston
Bleeding Cool has been covering the legal battle between Marvel Entertainment Chairman and multi-billionaire Ike Perlmutter and Canadian tycoon Harold Peerenboom, for seven years. Both individuals live in Sloan’s Curve, the Palm Beach complex in Florida next door to f0rmer President Donald Trump’s private club Mar-A-Lago. With Perlmutter being Trump’s biggest political donor, a fact that has elevated Perlmutter to another spot of bother this week.
Bleeding Cool was first alerted to this case in 2015 when Marvel Comics were subpoenaed for Ike Perlmutter’s e-mails regarding the matter. Harold Peerenboom had subpoenaed records from Marvel that he believed would show that Ike and his wife Laura Perlmutter had launched a vicious hate-mail campaign running from 2012 to 2015 falsely accusing Peerenboom of child molestation and murder.
The allegations revolve around a neighbourhood dispute that got out of hand about who should run the Sloan’s Curve tennis centre. Peerenboom claimed that the contract involved wasn’t officially tendered, gave Perlmutter privileged access to the centre, and installed a friend of his to run the club. It is said that this led to savage letters about Peerenboom being circulated around the community of Sloan’s Curve in Palm Beach where they both live, as well as being sent to Peerenboom’s friends, business associates, and to teachers at a school Peerenboom founded.
The letters were reported as stating that Peerenboom sexually molested a child from Sloan’s Curve, and murdered two people, one a former director at the school, as well stating Peerenboom believed in Hitler’s Final Solution and wanted to attack his Jewish neighbours, including Perlmutter. Other insulting letters, it is reported, were made to look as if Peerenboom had written them himself and including his address were sent to prisoners and their families at random. Peerenboom states that he received messages delighting in a car crash he had been involved with, and telling him to get out of the area.
Perlmutter’s legal response in 2016 was that there may be other more likely suspects for the letters and claimed that Peerenboom engaged in illegal attempts to get the DNA of Perlmutter and other residents as a way to frame him after arranging a deposition for the Perlmutters. At the time, representatives of Perlmutter told Bleeding Cool “Harold Peerenboom is from Toronto, Canada where he is known for being both litigious and filing frivolous lawsuits. Despite being unfairly targeted, the Perlmutters also condemn such hateful and vicious letters.”
Later in 2016, the courts stated that Perenboom’s lawyers could see Perlmutter’s private Marvel Comics e-mails as long as they did not involve his wife, Laura Perlmutter but that Ike’s emails to his own lawyers were exempt.
In 2017, Perlmutter’s team stated that Customs and Border Protection agents in Detroit intercepted a UPS delivery from Canada to Florida, a “hate mail kit” containing letters inside sealed envelopes with addresses preprinted, and three sets of latex gloves so as not to leave DNA of fingerprints. The filing claimed it was delivered to David Smith, a former employee and partner of Peerenboom’s company Mandrake, and alleged that the letters were a false flag operation concocted by Smith and Peerenboom to frame the Perlmutters. Or at least some letters were, because Perenboom’s lawyer, Marc Kasowitz, admitted that a June 2011 mailing from Perlmutter was not part of that hate mail campaign of false allegations against Peerenboom. In that mailing, Perlmutter and his assistant anonymously disseminated copies of newspaper clippings to Peerenboom’s friends, neighbours and Sloan’s Curve board members about Peerenboom business dealings in Toronto, and relationships with government officials.
As a result of the surrender of e-mails, Marvel Comics employees were accused of having dug up those newspaper clippings on behalf of Perlmutter. And that “two years before this testimony, he and his wife directed Marvel investigators to dig up dirt on Peerenboom and then sent an anonymous mailing of derogatory and negative news articles about him” and that “they also lobbied the detective’s PBPD supervisors and the State’s Attorney, including enlisting Marvel’s legal counsel, John Turitzin, to implore wealthy constituents to pressure Florida elected officials”.
With the matter continuing into 2018, legal suits layered over legal suits. In late 2019, David Smith faced his own legal issues, and the disgraced Canadian media mogul Conrad Black who had been pardoned by Trump wrote in defense of Peerenboom. And in 2021, Perlmutter sued Chubb over the DNA retrieval issues. This wasn’t going away, until maybe now?
Because the Florida courts have now dismissed the libel suit by Peerenboom against Ike Perlmutter (Peerenboom has voluntarily dismissed his claims against Laurie Perlmutter), that claimed they were behind the hate mail campaign. With Judge Cymonie Rowe of the Fifteenth Judicial Circuit Court stating that “there is no evidence whatsoever that the Perlmutters had any hand in those mailings” and naming Peerenboom’s former employee David Smith and friend as responsible. Rowe stated “at this stage of a now nearly eight-year-old case, Peerenboom concedes that he has no evidence linking the Perlmutters to anything except the June 2011 mailing, which Isaac Perlmutter has admitted to sending”. And that any claims about those mailings were beyond the statute of limitations for libel and did not meet the criteria for a claim of intentionally causing emotional distress.
Is this over? Not a bit of it. There is still a lawsuit from the Perlmutters against Peerenboom, accusing him of arranging the theft of DNA samples during a deposition. And there is always plenty of room to appeal.