James Cohen is a magazine distributor and heir to Hudson News. Cohen is also set to become the new owner of the National Enquirer. The tabloid and its parent company, American Media International, have been embroiled in scandal ever since news broke that the National Enquirer had helped cover up rumors of Donald Trump’s reported affair with a woman named Karen McDougal. Last year, AMI admitted that it had payed McDougal $150,000 as part of a “catch and kill” deal which prevented McDougal from going public with her story about her alleged relationship with Donald Trump.
More recently, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos accused the National Enquirer of extortion after the tabloid published a series of texts between Bezos and his girlfriend, Lauren Sanchez. The National Enquirer reportedly payed $200,000 to Sanchez’s brother in return for those texts.
In early April, AMI announced that it had plans to sell the National Enquirer. On April 18, the company said it had reached a $100 million deal with James Cohen. Cohen will also receive the Globe and the National Examiner, which are also owned by AMI, as part of the deal.
Here’s what you need to know about James Cohen:
1. His Grandfather Ran a Newsstand & His Father Went on to Found the Hudson News Empire
James Cohen’s grandfather, Isaac Cohen, once operated a newsstand in Bayonne, New Jersey. Isaac Cohen also delivered newspapers. Eventually, Isaac founded a newspaper distribution company which he called the Bayonne News Company. Isaac founded the company in the early 1920s. James’ father, Robert Cohen, joined the company in 1947, after graduating from NYU. Robert built up the company into one of the largest newspaper distributorships in the country. He also renamed it the Hudson County News Company.
In the 1970s, Robert Cohen decided to expand into running newsstands. He eventually created a chain of Hudson News stands in airports, bus stations, and train stations around the country. The chain was unique for its time because it offered a range of newspapers and magazines, snacks, and other things travelers might want to buy.
James Cohen took over as president of Hudson News from his father. The company was sold to the Swiss company, Dufry, in 2008. Robert Cohen died in 2012, leaving his son an inheritance of $800 million.
2. His Niece Says He Robbed Her of Millions of Dollars of What Should Have Been Her Inheritance
Samantha Perelman is James Cohen’s niece; her late mother, Claudia, was his sister. Samantha was disappointed by the size of her inheritance and claims that James put pressure on his father, Robert Cohen, to change his will. She is also angry that James sold off Hudson News in 2008 ad pocketed the money from the sale, leaving less money for other family members to inherit when Robert Cohen died in 2012.
James has said that he is “appalled” and saddened that his niece is suing him. He says he blames her father, Ron Perelman, and argues that this never would have happened if his sister Claudia were still alive.
3. His Wife Lisa Collects Contemporary Art & Travels the World to Find New Pieces
Lisa and James Cohen married in the 1980s in a ceremony at New York City’s Plaza hotel. The couple prides themselves on their contemporary art collection, which they first got serious about in 2009. That’s when Lisa Cohen got really serious about traveling the world in search of new pieces to add to her growing collection.
“Any art fair I could get myself invited to, I would go,” she told the New York Times. “I would go to Paris to FIAC, to Frieze in London, where I bought the George Condo. Of course, Art Basel. I saw the phenomenon of this whole life of traveling and going to these art fairs, seeing the same people on one continent, and a few months later, seeing them on another.”
4. He Spent Over a Million Dollars on His Daughter’s Bat Mitzvah
Back in 2015 James Cohen and his wife, Lisa, spent over a million dollars on a party to celebrate their daughter Jaclyn’s Bat Mitzvah, a Jewish coming of age ceremony for 12 and 13 year old girls. The New York Post reported that Cohen payed the singer Nick Jonas $300,000 to perform six songs. Guests at the event included Ralph Lauren Home president William Li, as well as Dr. Oz and his wife Lisa.
The event included a screening of a movie which had been produced for Jaclyn, as well as a lavish dinner for 300 guests. It all took place inside a 10,000 square foot tent at the family’s New Jersey home. One guest told the New York Post, “It was the most lavish party anyone has been to in a long time, like they used to throw before the financial crisis.”
5. He Has a Home in New Jersey & Another in New York’s Plaza Hotel
James and Lisa Cohen have a Tudor-style home in Aspen, New Jersey and a second home in East Hampton, New York. They also have a “pied-a-terre” in New York City’s Plaza hotel. Lisa Cohen is an interior decorator and an art collector who enjoys decorating her homes and takes pride in finding just the right pieces to suit her spaces.
The Cohens were married in the Plaza Hotel’s ballroom in the 1980s, so they say that when an apartment opened up in the iconic New York City hotel, they were eager to snap it up.