Donald Drapkin, Investor Who Split With Perelman, Dies at 67

  • Casablanca Capital Hedge Fund Chairman Suffered Brain Injury
  • MacAndrews & Forbes Holdings Inc.'s Former Vice Chairman

Donald Drapkin, the chairman of activist hedge fund Casablanca Capital who feuded with former business partner Ronald Perelman, has died. He was 67.

He died Monday at a Denver hospital after suffering a brain injury in a skiing accident on Feb. 15 in Aspen, Colorado, Sara Fitzmaurice, a family spokeswoman, said in an e-mail.

Drapkin’s New York-based investment firm lobbied for turnarounds at Cliffs Natural Resources Inc., the largest U.S. iron-ore producer, in 2014 and at electronics company Mentor Graphics Corp. in 2011. He won a $16 million jury verdict in a breach of contract dispute with his former employer, Perelman’s MacAndrews & Forbes Holdings Inc., in 2012.

Drapkin sued MacAndrews & Forbes in 2009 for violating a separation agreement, claiming he was owed severance and stock proceeds. He was hired by Perelman in 1987 as vice chairman and director, according to a profile on the Casablanca website. Drapkin said he served the firm as an in-house investment banker, but the relationship between the two men had deteriorated so much by 2006 that Drapkin’s salary had been slashed and his responsibilities cut.

“I was best friends with my partner for 25 years,” Drapkin said of his relationship with Perelman after the 2012 judgment, according to CNBC. “I mourn the loss of that friendship.”

Settled Case

Following the verdict, in U.S. court in Manhattan, the two men agreed to an undisclosed settlement, the New York Times reported.

Drapkin joined merger-advisory firm Lazard Ltd. in 2007 as chairman of its investment committee. He co-founded Casablanca in 2010 with Douglas Taylor, who is listed as managing partner. Gregory Donat is also a partner, according to the firm’s website.

Donald Guy Drapkin was born March 1, 1948, and raised in Queens, New York, according to the family spokeswoman. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts, in 1968, where he later served on the board of trustees. He went on to graduate from Columbia Law School in New York.

M&A Specialist

He began his career in New York in 1971 as an associate at the law firm of Cravath, Swaine & Moore, according to the Casablanca profile. In 1977, he joined Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, a law firm specializing in advising on mergers and acquisitions, as a partner.

“Don was a cherished friend and valued partner to all of us, and we are profoundly saddened by this loss,” Casablanca said in an e-mailed statement. “We will remember him with deep fondness.”

Drapkin, who resided in Aspen and New York, was an active philanthropist. He served, most recently, on the boards of the Lincoln Center Theater, in New York, and the Aspen Music Festival and School, in Colorado.

Survivors include Sue Hostetler, his partner; Bernice Drapkin, his wife from whom he was separated; and children Matthew Drapkin, Dana Drapkin Baumgarten, Nicole Drapkin Schaffer, David Drapkin and Amanda Drapkin.

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