Carnegie Hall Said Poised to Name Mercedes Bass Interim Chairman

Carnegie Hall

Mercedes Bass, a trustee of Carnegie Hall, Sandy Weill, Carnegie Hall's chairman, and soprano Anna Netrebko. Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

  • Bass would take over post from billionaire Ronald Perelman
  • Perelman has said he'll exit after raising oversight concerns

Carnegie Hall is preparing to name its vice chairman, Mercedes Bass, to serve as interim chairman, according a person with direct knowledge of the matter. She would take over from billionaire Ronald O. Perelman, who stepped down after raising concerns about the venue’s oversight.

Carnegie Hall’s trustees were to meet Thursday afternoon to vote on the appointment, said the person, who asked not to be identified because no announcement has been made. A committee is being formed to find a permanent chairman, the person said. A spokeswoman for Carnegie Hall, Corinne Zadik, had no immediate comment.

Perelman, the chairman and chief executive officer of MacAndrews & Forbes, said last month he would vacate the post after expressing frustrations with Carnegie’s executive and artistic director, Clive Gillinson, and other board members. In a Sept. 16 letter to the board, he raised concerns that the concert hall wasn’t being transparent enough about finances and questioned the oversight of related-party transactions. The executive committee of the board hired Howard Heiss of O’Melveny & Myers LLP to look into the allegations.

"The health of the organization is all we care about," executive committee member Peter May said Wednesday at a gala opening Carnegie Hall’s 125th season.

May, a founding partner of Trian Fund Management, led a process to identify a candidate as chairman of the nominating committee. Other members of that panel include Joshua Nash of Ulysses Management, who helps oversee Carnegie Hall’s endowment, and Stanley Shuman, a senior adviser at Allen & Co.

The chairman holds the most senior oversight post for Carnegie Hall, which had more than $85 million in expenses and managed to increase its net assets in fiscal 2014, according to a copy of its audited financial statement.

Bass would lead the board that oversees two key nonprofits established in 1960: The Carnegie Hall Corp. and Carnegie Hall Society, which manage and fund-raise for the venue, respectively. Perelman, 72, is the shortest-serving chairman, having assumed the role in February. His predecessor, Sanford Weill, held the post for 24 years and is currently president.

Carnegie presents classical orchestras from around the world, as well as jazz, world and popular music. The venue also rents its stages to other music outfits.

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