Your email is not valid
Recipient's email is not valid
Submit Close

Your email has been sent.

Click here to send another

thescroll_header

Richard Perry’s Pet Projects

The new owner of Barney’s has also entered the Israel fray

Print Email
Richard Perry, Francesco Russo, Mark Lee(Fashion Windows)

The New York Times magazine just put up a terrific story about Richard Perry, a relatively retiring gazillionaire whose hedge fund bought out Barney’s last May. Because it’s by Cathy Horyn, the paper’s fashion critic, the feature is mainly concerned with how Perry and his fashion-designer wife, Lisa, intend to rescue what really is the last of the great New York Jewish department stores: Barney Pressman, an echt garmento by way of Elizabeth Street, opened his store in 1923 with $500 he raised by hocking his wife’s engagement ring. He grew famous for selling name-brand suits at discount prices, but it was his son, Fred, who decided to create new name brands by scouting European designers, and who changed the way we all dress by giving Armani and Prada a launchpad.

Horyn mentions that before she turned her attention to the fashion industry, Lisa Perry was an abortion-rights advocate and aspiring Democratic power broker, and lets her repeats that now-well-worn phrase–“I really wanted Hillary to be president”–to explain why she lost interest in politics. But it’s Richard Perry who is the real political player in the family. He got his start under Robert Rubin, the Goldman Sachs chief who went on to be Bill Clinton’s Treasury secretary, and, according to a 2008 profile in Fortune, switched allegiance to Barack Obama after he became that year’s Democratic presidential nominee.

In the last few years, Perry has quietly turned his attention to another cause: Israel. He is a board member of the Israel Project, a Washington-based advocacy group, and in 2010 hosted an event for Ziad Asali, the head of the American Task Force for Palestine, at his Sutton Place apartment, which really is, as Horyn put it, something else. (That event’s co-host was the Boston billionaire Seth Klarman, who subsequently launched the Times of Israel.) A few months later, Perry had a group of reporters to his equally art-strewn offices in the General Motors building, across the street from the Plaza, to hear from Ilan Mizrahi, a former deputy Mossad chief, about how Israel might handle the Iranian nuclear threat. In both cases, Perry seemed as intellectually curious as Horyn describes him being about the fashion business he’s now getting into.

But the Israel Project recently hired Josh Block, the pugnacious former AIPAC spokesman, as its second CEO, after the departure of its founder, Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi. The organization bills itself as bipartisan, but Block, a former staffer in the Clinton Administration State Department, is known for his preoccupation with the Democratic Party’s attitude toward Israel, and specifically with the attitude of those in its progressive wing. Which puts Perry, as he steps in to save a Jewish retail legacy, in the middle of the ongoing fight to define a particularly Jewish political legacy, too.

Related: Sounding Off
What’s a Store For? [NYT Magazine]
Looking for Trouble [Fortune]

Print Email

COMMENTING CHARGES
Daily rate: $2
Monthly rate: $18
Yearly rate: $180

WAIT, WHY DO I HAVE TO PAY TO COMMENT?
Tablet is committed to bringing you the best, smartest, most enlightening and entertaining reporting and writing on Jewish life, all free of charge. We take pride in our community of readers, and are thrilled that you choose to engage with us in a way that is both thoughtful and thought-provoking. But the Internet, for all of its wonders, poses challenges to civilized and constructive discussion, allowing vocal—and, often, anonymous—minorities to drag it down with invective (and worse). Starting today, then, we are asking people who'd like to post comments on the site to pay a nominal fee—less a paywall than a gesture of your own commitment to the cause of great conversation. All proceeds go to helping us bring you the ambitious journalism that brought you here in the first place.

I NEED TO BE HEARD! BUT I DONT WANT TO PAY.
Readers can still interact with us free of charge via Facebook, Twitter, and our other social media channels, or write to us at letters@tabletmag.com. Each week, we’ll select the best letters and publish them in a new letters to the editor feature on the Scroll.

We hope this new largely symbolic measure will help us create a more pleasant and cultivated environment for all of our readers, and, as always, we thank you deeply for your support.

2000

Your comment may be no longer than 2,000 characters, approximately 400 words. HTML tags are not permitted, nor are more than two URLs per comment. We reserve the right to delete inappropriate comments.

Thank You!

Thank you for subscribing to the Tablet Magazine Daily Digest.
Please tell us about you.

Richard Perry’s Pet Projects

The new owner of Barney’s has also entered the Israel fray

More on Tablet:

Obama: Denying Israel’s Right to Exist as a Jewish Homeland is Anti-Semitic

By Yair Rosenberg — The president draws a line in the sand in his latest interview