Who is Debra Black? Leon Black quit as Apollo CEO citing wife's 'health issues' after Guzel Ganieva rape case

Leon Black's Tony-award winning producer wife Debra Black is a melanoma survivor, and the ex-Apollo CEO cited her health issues as a reason to quit

                            Who is Debra Black? Leon Black quit as Apollo CEO citing wife's 'health issues' after Guzel Ganieva rape case
Leon Black with wife Debra Black attend MOMA's Party on May 31, 2018, in New York City (Andrew Toth/Getty Images)

Former model Guzel Ganieva on Tuesday, June 1, sued Wall Street billionaire and Jeffrey Epstein associate Leon Black for defamation, alleging he falsely accused her of extortion. This came months after Ganieva outed Leon for allegedly raping her and making her take hush money, following which Leon quit his position as CEO of Apollo Global Management, citing "health issues" on behalf of himself and his wife, Debra Black.

In the 29-page lawsuit filed on June 1 in New York State Supreme Court against Leon, Ganieva said he lied about their relationship to the media and falsely accused her of extortion. The allegations included defamation, intentional infliction of emotional distress and gender-motivated violence throughout their six-year relationship, along with making her sign an NDA in 2015.


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The Apollo Global Management CEO stepped down from the position in January this year following an independent review which showed that he gave huge amounts of money in payment to Epstein. Leon even attended a party with Epstein after the sex offender was in custody on charges of sex trafficking of minors in Florida and New York.

Debra Black (Melanoma Research Alliance official website)

Who is Leon Black's wife Debra Black?

Debra Black, born Debra Ressler, is a Broadway theater producer and sister of Ares Management co-founder Antony Ressler. She holds a BA in English from Barnard College and presently serves on the boards of Lincoln Center Theater, The New York State Council on the Arts and Rockefeller University. Her Tony Award-winning productions include ‘The History Boys’ and ‘August: Osage County’, a play by Tracy Letts which was also made into a 2014 movie starring Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts.

Her other productions include 'The Pillowman', 'Butley', 'The Vertical Hour', 'The Year of Magical Thinking', 'Deuce', 'Inherit the Wind', 'Frost/Nixon', 'Coram Boy', 'Gypsy', 'Thurgood', 'The Country Girl', 'Mary Stuart', 'Superior Donuts' and 'A Behanding in Spokane'.

According to her LinkedIn profile, Debra is a stage II melanoma survivor and co-founder and chair of the Board of Directors of the Melanoma Research Alliance since 2007. Debra and her husband Leon launched the Melanoma Research Alliance (MRA), a division of the Milken Institute, in 2007 to speed up progress toward a treatment. Melanoma is the deadliest type of skin cancer, and it's also the world's fastest-growing malignancy, with more than 1,32,000 new cases each year, Forbes reported.

Leon Black, former chairman and chief executive officer of Apollo Global Management LLC, at the Milken Institute Global Conference in Beverly Hills, California, on Tuesday, May 1, 2018 (Patrick T Fallon/Getty Images)

"As a melanoma survivor, she learned first-hand that new insights about cancer have not translated into significant clinical benefits for most patients with advanced melanoma, one of the fastest-growing cancers in the US," her bio reads. It adds that MRA is the largest private funder of melanoma research, has awarded $30M to 73 research programs to date. The Blacks have personally donated $40M to MRA, the Forbes report added.

Debra and Leon are philanthropists who gave $10M to New York City hospital workers during the Covid-19 pandemic, according to Art News. The couple has four children and they live in a Southhampton, New York, home that is valued at $43M, according to Moneyinc.

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