The toy industry has turned to a reclusive billionaire pal of President Trump to save it from heavy tariffs set to hit on Sunday, The Post has learned.
Desperate to avoid 15% tariffs on dolls, games, electronics and other products made in China, toy executives asked Isaac “Ike” Perlmutter to plead their case to the commander in chief, sources said.
“People reached out to Isaac to speak on behalf of the industry,” said a senior toy official familiar with the talks, who did not want to be identified. “He’s the guy from our point of view” who has the access and the influence, the person said.
Perlmutter, 77, is the chairman and former CEO of the Marvel Entertainment comic book empire, which he ran long before he became known for his big-budget action movies.
Perlmutter is also a member of the President’s Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Florida, where the pair often dine together, according to reports. Before Trump became Commander-in-Chief, Perlmutter was known not to have been photographed since the 1980s. However, after Trump took office, the two men were photographed together on numerous occasions, including during White House transition meetings at Mar-A-Lago.
Perlmutter did not respond to requests for comment on whether he would intervene on behalf of the toy trade, which already won a tariff reprieve this fall. In August, Trump pushed back on a planned 10% tariff on Chinese-made toys, cellphones, laptops and other popular gift items after toymakers and retailers argued the Sept. 1 tariffs would ruin the holiday. .
“We’re doing this for the Christmas season,” Trump said in announcing the delay.
This time, with holiday items already on store shelves, toymakers can no longer argue that a pardon would stop Trump from looking like the Grinch, sources said.
On Tuesday, new rumors of a trade delay or deal were reported, but government officials gave no assurances. “The reality is that those tariffs are still on the table,” White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said.
That left the toy industry searching for informal return channels for a savior, sources said.
“We continue to speak to the administration directly and indirectly,” Rebecca Mond, vice president of federal government affairs for the Toy Association, told the Post. “We leverage all the contacts we have in the administration,” Mond said without saying whether Perlmutter was among those contacts.
Perlmutter – worth an estimated $5.2 billion according to Forbes – along with his wife, Laurie, donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to the president’s re-election campaign. In 2016, he donated $1 million to the president’s fundraiser for veterans and was asked by Trump in 2017 to help veterans.
“Ike Perlmutter has been very, very involved. One of the great businessmen,” Trump said in 2017. “And we’re going to turn the VA around for our veterans. I have promised this for a long time.
Perlmutter made his fortune buying and selling businesses earlier in his career, including liquidation retailer Odd Lot Trading, which he founded, and shaving brand Remington. He was co-owner of Toy Biz, which had action figures and eventually became the Marvel comics company.
In challenging Marvel from bankruptcy, Perlmutter had to battle fellow billionaire bigwigs Ronald Perelman, a big investor in Revlon, and hedge fund manager Carl Icahn.
Perlmutter has also made headlines in recent years for his involvement in a bizarre legal battle in Palm Beach over his alleged role in a covert hate mail campaign.
The case, which is still unfolding in Florida and Canada, began as a seemingly innocent dispute with a neighbor in a Palm Beach gated community who wanted to oust a tennis pro Perlmutter wanted to keep. The dispute escalated so much that neighbor Harold Peerenboom sued Perlmutter for defamation, claiming he carried out an anonymous hate mail campaign falsely accusing Perrenboom of child rape and murder, according to reports and court documents.