Time was, Steve Cohen told the Feds where they could go. No matter how much heat they put on him, the Big Guy would not burn. If they wanted to relentlessly circle him in an attempt to find evidence of insider trading, that was fine by Steve. But he wasn’t going to act like he gave a rat’s ass and he certainly wasn’t going to wilt under the scrutiny or draw the blinds at Casa Cohen and curl up in a ball to cry. This time two years ago, despite SAC receiving a subpoena from the government, the FBI raiding the firms of several former SAC employees, and an analyst being asked to wear a wire while chatting him up, Cohen not only hopped on a private plane to attend Art Basel, but he did so with a smile on his face. (“Cohen,” the Journal reported, was in “jovial spirits and eager to chat about his fresh art acquisitions,” which included a “large-scale map of the world made from tin cans” that he bought in the first five minutes of the fair opening.)  And while one could argue that the heat on Steve has been cranked up quite a bit more since then, we assumed he was dealing with it in typical Steve fashion, and would make it to Miami like always. So it was particularly troubling to hear this:

The opening of Art Basel Miami Beach, under way here this week, looked like the start of the most glamorous doorbuster sale in history, with thousands of V.I.P.’s streaming into the convention center wearing high-end resort casual, ready to rummage through more than 200 of the world’s most prestigious galleries. Among the shoppers were prominent collectors like Peter Brant, the newsprint executive, who strolled with the actor Owen Wilson. At the Gagosian Gallery booth, P. Diddy gave a hug to the casino mogul Steve Wynn beside a $2 million sculpture by Roy Lichtenstein. But one notable titan of this realm was missing: Steven A. Cohen, the hedge fund billionaire, who in less than six years has acquired one of the market’s richest troves, with works by Manet, Monet, Jackson Pollock, Andy Warhol and Damien Hirst, to cite just a few.

Other people slightly worried about what the absence of the Big Guy means include gallery owner Timothy Blum, who would put himself at a 9 on the freak out scale re: the possibility of Cohen getting nailed.

“It’s disconcerting,” said Timothy Blum, co-owner of Blum & Poe, a gallery in Los Angeles. “We’re talking about a lot of liquid,” he added, meaning money. “A lot of liquid. I’ve never calculated it out, but he’s responsible for a significant percent of our business.”

On the opposite end of the spectrum is this guy, who apparently thinks that being implicated in an insider trading case is akin to being charged with violating alternate side of the street parking rules.

“I don’t mean to sound cavalier but there is this sense at this point that this is much ado about nothing,” says Todd Levin of the Levin Art Group, an art consulting firm. “If there were actual allegations by the S.E.C. and those turned into actual charges and if it actually went to trial, then we’d have something to talk about. Until then, I don’t think anyone is paying attention to this.”

A Hedge Fund Titan Is Missing At The Art Fair [NYT]
Earlier: Steve Cohen Is Totally Unfazed By Feds

17 comments (hidden to protect delicate sensibilities)
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Comments (17)

  1. Posted by Guest | December 6, 2012 at 4:59 PM

    Being a top gallerist isn't all that different than being a prominent hedge fund manager:

    1) Deny access with air of exclusivity
    2) Use a lot of jargon so that only other people in the industry have any idea what you're saying
    3) Trade in opaque markets to avoid claims of market manipulation
    4) Have outrageous margins on whatever you sell
    5) Profit

  2. Posted by PermaGuestII | December 6, 2012 at 5:05 PM

    Why is called Art Basel when it's in Miami?

  3. Posted by Guest | December 6, 2012 at 5:16 PM

    I'm guessing Apple Maps is a sponsor.

  4. Posted by Guest | December 6, 2012 at 5:16 PM

    "people who bring shame to the Levin name" for the win

  5. Posted by Dr_Rosenrose | December 6, 2012 at 5:29 PM

    "Until then, I don’t think anyone is paying attention to this."

    And that, Todd, is why you are an art consultant.

  6. Posted by ih8edjfkjr | December 6, 2012 at 5:31 PM

    Because you never let 'em know you're in Miami?

  7. Posted by Guest | December 6, 2012 at 5:34 PM

    Owen Wilson also chimed in on Cohen's absence:

    "So I'm rappelling down Mount Vesuvius when suddenly I slip, and I start to fall. Just falling, ahhh ahhh, I'll never forget the terror. When suddenly I realize "Holy s***, Owen, haven't you been smoking Peyote for six straight days, and couldn't some of this maybe be in your head?"

  8. Posted by Guest | December 6, 2012 at 5:43 PM

    " the first Art Basel was held in 1970 as an alternative to Art Cologne. In 1973, only three years after its founding, Basel superseded Cologne as the largest art show in the world.[2] In 2010, more than 62,500 people attended the exhibition. Since 2002, a sister exhibition, Art Basel Miami has been held in the USA at Miami, Florida."

  9. Posted by Fellow Fetishist | December 6, 2012 at 5:55 PM

    Can't Jeff Gundlach bring some liquid back into the art market in Stevie's absence?

  10. Posted by Guest | December 6, 2012 at 5:59 PM

    And we care because?

  11. Posted by Mad I'm Not Drinking | December 6, 2012 at 6:03 PM

    About you? Good question, come to think of I guess we don't, so kindly fuck off.

  12. Posted by guest | December 6, 2012 at 7:08 PM

    you're an idiot

  13. Posted by guest | December 6, 2012 at 7:09 PM

    B/c this is a site about Wall Street? And Steve Cohen is a huge person on Wall Street? And this is a huge story? Any other questions.

  14. Posted by VonSloneker | December 6, 2012 at 7:15 PM

    Basel = Poserlandia

  15. Posted by PermaGuestII | December 7, 2012 at 9:38 AM

    But you have to give some degree of respect for a marketing event that can convince billionaires to fork over large sums of money for things such as inedible dead fish.

    -the ghost of Evelyn Waugh

  16. Posted by engineer over here | December 7, 2012 at 9:40 AM

    "meaning money"

  17. Posted by Sandy | December 7, 2012 at 10:54 AM

    His art sucks but he used to sell me really good pot

  18. Posted by HHFM | December 7, 2012 at 1:30 PM

    6) exude a sanctimonious attitude about promoting art and civilization, while
    7) anticipating large tax deductions through gifts to countless museums , each of which
    has to have to a piece of the frequently tasteless pie