Hedge Funds vs. Art, Round Whatever

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A few years ago we felt like a sophisticated, cultured high-roller when we flew out to Chicago for a weekend to catch a well-reviewed special exhibit at the Chicago Art institute. At least, that was the impression we were hoping to leave on the pretty young woman we flew out with us. And it kind of worked. She still smiles when Chicago comes up in conversation, and thinks of the Art Instititue as our special place.
According to a press release, we aren't the only ones who have tried this trick. Citadel founder Kenneth Griffin had his first date with his wife at the Art Institute. And so he just donated $19 million to help fund a new Modern Art wing at the the museum. It’s centerpiece will be a two story central court named the “Kenneth and Anne Griffin Court.”

“Anne and I are delighted to be able to help the Art Institute build the Modern Wing, a freestanding addition to the museum campus that we believe will be one of the world’s great museum buildings,” he said in the statement. “We visited the Art Institute on one of our first dates. For us, our relationship with this great, encyclopedic museum can be described as ‘love at first sight.’”

Suddenly springing for dinner at Charlie Trotter's doesn't seem as impressive. $19 million and your own two-story central court. How do you compete with that?
Oh, and just in case you were thinking of trying, Ken follows this up by dropping $80 milliion to buy Jasper John’s “False Start” from David Geffen. (Geffen also just sold a de Kooning to SAC Capital’s Stevie Cohen for $63.5 milliion.) Thanks man. You've ruined it for all of us.
Art Institute gets $19-million donation [Crain's]
Works by Johns and de Kooning Sell for $143.5 Million [New York Times]

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