Billionaire Hedge Funder Steve Cohen Banks $22.5M On a Single Painting
3:59 pm, May 5th | by Hillary Reinsberg
Hedge fund billionaire Steve Cohen seems to be unloading some seriously valuable pieces of his multimillion dollar art collection. Last night he banked $22.5 million on a fauvist landscape at Christie’s, according to The New York Times, in a record-breaking sale.
Cohen, the Greenwich-based founder of SAC Capital, sold the painting “Paysage de Banlieue” by Maurice de Vlaminck, for $22.5 million, the highest price ever paid at auction for a painting by the artist. The painting was last at public auction in 1994, where it went for just $6.8 million, but Cohen apparently bought the work privately for an undisclosed amount in 2002. Obviously, Cohen took home a multimillion-dollar profit last night, but then again, if you’ve got $8 billion, that’s probably chump change.
Cohen’s not stopping here though. A week from now, he’s selling another, even pricier work at auction – an Andy Warhol portrait of Elizabeth Taylor, an iconic work that’s expected to go for about $30 million.
Why sell around $50 million worth of art when you clearly don’t need the cash? (Considering he’s one of the front runners to pick up a $200 million stake in the Mets, we’d bet he’s in pretty good financial shape.) Believe it or not, these works are not the cream of the crop of Cohen’s collection. Cohen embarked on amassing a serious art collection around 2000, and has since bought many highly expensive, iconic works. These include, but are not limited to:
– A $137.5 million de Kooning, purchased from entertainment mogul David Geffen in 2006.
– A $63.5 million de Kooning, also purchased from Geffen in 2006.
– A $52 million Jackson Pollock, yet another Geffen purchase.
Cohen’s also snagged lots of signature pieces by modern and contemporary artists, like Damien Hirst’s bizarre $8 million shark in formaldehyde. As evidenced by more recent purchases, in the last few years he’s been more likely to go out on a limb and splurge on more contemporary pieces, rather than the Impressionist or Fauvist mainstays he shelled out for early on. That change in taste could perhaps explain last night’s sale. As for the Warhol? Perhaps Cohen’s just running out of wall space. Well, that’s possible. In the past, he tried to erect a museum on his Greenwich property to house the excess of his collection.
With the heavy-hitting spring art auctions ahead, we’ll be on the lookout for more high-end mogul sales and snags.