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, after suffering a head injury in a skiing accident on Feb. 15 at the Aspen Snowmass resort in Colorado and never regaining consciousness, according to a person with knowledge of the incident who asked not to be identified discussing private information. He had been airlifted to a Denver hospital, according to the Aspen Times
Drapkin’s 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.
“Don was a cherished friend and valued partner to all of us, and we are profoundly saddened by this loss,” New York-based Casablanca said in an e-mailed statement. “We will remember him with deep fondness.”
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.
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.
Drapkin earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts, in 1968, according to the website of the school, where he also served on the board of trustees. He went on to graduate from Columbia Law School in New York.
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.