Isaac Perlmutter, the owner of Marvel, is notoriously eccentric. He’s so reclusive, he went to the Iron Man premiere in disguise, and so cheap he nearly got Iron Man written out of Captain America: Civil War just to save money. And now he’s embroiled in what’s easily the strangest neighbor dispute you’ll read about this week.
Perlmutter and his wife are being accused by their neighbor, Harold Peerenboom, of sending out anonymous hate mail accusing Peerenboom of, among other things, child molestation and an unsolved murder, and if that weren’t enough, sending insulting letters to various convicts in the Florida prison system. The case has dragged on for four years, involves expensive lawyers who have defended high-profile cases, and even includes accusations of stealing DNA:
The story took a particularly strange turn last year when Mr. Peerenboom’s legal team said that a private lab had found a direct DNA match on the outside of one of the sent envelopes, implicating Mr. Perlmutter’s wife, Laura. Mr. Perlmutter’s lawyers say that the DNA evidence was planted and is inadmissible in court. The lawyers contend that Mr. Peerenboom’s legal team stole DNA samples from water bottles and papers that the Perlmutters used and touched during a deposition.
You might wonder what all of this is about. Is Peerenboom an investor in Marvel unhappy with the direction of the company? Are Perlmutter and Peerenboom longtime rivals in the toy industry? Something more salacious? Nope! It’s because Peerenboom was kind of a jerk to a local tennis pro!
At the center of the case is Karen D. Donnelly, who ran the tennis program inside the Sloans Curve community. She was a favorite of Mr. Perlmutter, an avid tennis player. Mr. Peerenboom, who moved into the community in 2007, learned that Ms. Donnelly worked without a contract and had not bid for the work, which he claimed amounted to bid-rigging under Florida law. He made his objection to the arrangement known to the homeowners’ organization. But the board, nudged by Mr. Perlmutter, overruled Mr. Peerenboom and reworked the agreement with Ms. Donnelly so she didn’t have to submit a competitive bid to run the tennis complex.
Keep in mind, Perlmutter and his wife are being accused of sending more than a thousand pieces of hate mail. And since they’re neighbors and it’s unlikely the Floridian government cares that much about bid-rigging in the tennis industry, one can’t help but suspect that this is a minor neighborly dispute that got just a wee bit out of control.
The case has even involved Marvel, as Peerenboom has sued to force the company to turn over any email in which his name appears. But while it’s unlikely to materially affect the company, it does put rumors about how it operates in a new light. Maybe Marvel really is leaving off the X-Men from their marketing materials out of spite.
(Via the New York Times)