Ronald Perleman and Rabbi Avrohom Shemtov
The daughter of cosmetics tycoon Ron Perelman has accused her uncle of stealing millions in inheritance from her late grandfather, the newsstand millionaire Robert Cohen.
Lawyers for Samantha Perelman told a New Jersey probate court that James Cohen, her late mother's brother, had tricked his father into cutting her out of his will.
In opening statements Paul Rowe, for Miss Perelman, claimed that there was 'overwhelming' evidence that Mr Cohen took advantage of his ailing father to seize control of the $800million Hudson News Company.
Mr Cohen denies the claims. His lawyer contended yesterday that Miss Cohen, who at 23 is already a multimillionairess in her own right, was scheming to deny Robert Cohen's only living child out of his inheritance.
The elder Cohen, who died last year aged 86 after a 13-year battle with Parkinson's built Hudson News into a retail empire starting with a Newark, New Jersey news stand.
After his death last year he left the company to his son James, who then sold it and collected $600million from the deal.
Miss Perelman is the daughter of former New York Daily News gossip columnist Claudia Cohen, James Cohen's sister, who died in 2007 leaving her child a $60million fortune.
Meanwhile, her father, Ron Perelman, is worth an estimated $12billion, made through leveraged buyouts of companies and his stake in Revlon cosmetics.
Benjamin Clarke, for James Cohen, told the court that his client's media mogul father was 'not the kind of person you told what to do,' the New York Daily News reported.
'Robert Cohen was the kind of person who told you what to do,' the lawyer said, adding that the only possible exception to that was his 'little cupcake' granddaughter, Miss Perelman.
He portrayed the plaintiff as greedy and selfish, claiming that she did not even bother to see her grandfather in the final years of his life.
'She wants to believe that she, the daughter of one of the wealthiest people in the world, should [inherit] hundreds of millions of dollars generated by the sale of a company that James Cohen, not Robert Cohen, owned,' Mr Clarke told the court.
Miss Perelman's lawyer argued that it was Mr Cohen who was the greedy one, alleging that he had taken advantage of his father's deteriorating mental state to exclude his niece from her rightful inheritance.
Robert Cohen's decline began in 1999, said Mr Rowe, when the tycoon was diagnosed with Parkinson's. In 2004 he was battling liver cancer and that year also lost control of his limbs and bodily functions.
By 2009, the year he wrote his last will naming his son James as sole beneficiary, the businessman was so incapacitated that he was unable even to blink.
A spokesman for Miss Perelman has claimed that she was prevented from seeing her ailing grandfather in the final years of his life.
Mr Rowe has asked the court to throw out that will and reinstate one written in 2004, which had left Claudia Perelman, Miss Perelman's late mother, valuables including a 30-carat diamond ring worth $10million and his private jet, as well as $25million in cash.
Since Miss Perelman was the main beneficiary of her mother's estate she stands to inherit most of that fortune.
Mr Clarke countered that Robert Cohen had transferred Hudson News to his son in a bit of nifty estate planning that helped avoid a big tax bill.
He also contended that the elder Cohen had been upset with his granddaughter for challenging his mental competency in a previous case.
Furthermore, he added, even under the 2009 will, Miss Perelman still stands to inherit the £10million ring.
The case continues.