Steve Cohen Gives $100M To End Mass Incarceration In U.S.

Inadvertently and indirectly, but all the same.
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Estate of Roy Lichtenstein

Estate of Roy Lichtenstein

Steve Cohen is mere months away from beginning to collect $400 million per year just to babysit other people’s money. Should he do a good job of it, he’ll get 20% of whatever he makes it earn for them. Before this triumphant re-entry into the hedge fund industry, however, S.A.C. is marking his triumphant return to the art market.

Not four years ago, amidst his, uh, difficulties, Cohen found himself in an unusual position: seller of canvases, rather than buyer. But recent visitors to the Crown Lane compound will have noticed that in place of the Twombley or Richter unloaded back in 2013 is a rather fetching new Lichtenstein. A $165 million Lichtenstein, in fact, the most Steve has ever spent on a painting and a sum that makes his $80 million Warhol look like a bargain-basement buy. And, what’s more, eagerly seizing this precious masterpiece is practically philanthropy.

This new Art for Justice Fund — to be announced Monday at the Museum of Modern Art, where Ms. Gund is president emerita — will start with $100 million of the proceeds from the Lichtenstein (which was sold to the collector Steven A. Cohen through Acquavella Gallery)….

The effort is noteworthy, not only for the amount of money involved — rarely do charitable undertakings start at $100 million — but because Ms. Gund is essentially challenging fellow collectors to use their artworks to champion social causes at a time when the market has made their holdings more valuable than ever….

The fund will make grants to organizations and leaders who already have a track record in criminal justice reform — like the Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery, Ala. — that seek to safely reduce jail and prison populations across the country and to strengthen education and employment opportunities for former inmates. The fund will also support art-related programs on mass incarceration.

Agnes Gund Sells a Lichtenstein to Start Criminal Justice Fund [NYT]
Steve Cohen buys Lichtenstein’s ‘Masterpiece’ for $165 million [CNBC]

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