That Ken Griffin is no picnic to be around when angry (unless you happen to be a real estate broker or auctioneer) is fairly well-attested, as are his political leanings. So you can imagine how he feels about the unwashed hippies who presume, without a donation of a single million dollars, to have a say in the running of the Whitney Museum of American Art, specifically about the role of tear-gas mogul and museum vice-chair Warren Kanders. And that’s to say nothing of the goddamned ingrate artists egging them on by refusing to participate in that famously non-political event, the Whitney Biennial. Those who’ve been fired by Griffin, especially if it was for underperformance, can further imagine his state when those aforementioned poor people won, and Kanders resigned. It wasn’t pretty.
Warren B. Kanders, a vice chairman of the Whitney Museum of American Art, had just been driven out by a cascading protest over his company’s sale of law enforcement and military supplies. And his fellow trustee Kenneth C. Griffin was livid.
So hours after Mr. Kanders resigned in July, Mr. Griffin, a hedge fund titan and one of the world’s richest men, followed him out the door, quitting in outrage during a conference call with other board members.
That’s right. Ken Griffin would take his money where it would be unquestionably appreciated, like West Palm Beach. Whoever would help pay for the photocopies of Daily News covers and videos attacking Whitney board members and whatever else makes up the Biennial? As it happens, thanks to the intervention of a less excitable billionaire, it will be Ken Griffin.
By the end of the day, Mr. Griffin had changed his mind. But according to people privy to the events, he did so only after Leonard Lauder, the cosmetics scion and the museum’s powerful chairman emeritus, phoned Mr. Griffin from a boat to coax him back….
“I have great admiration for Leonard Lauder’s leadership in building the Whitney into one of the greatest institutions of American art in the world,” the statement said. “I will continue to support Leonard’s vision for the museum, and am proud to serve with him on its board.”