In a post on Facebook, art collector and hedge-fund manager Daniel S. Loeb went after New York State Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins over charter-school policy, according to a report in the New York Times. “Hypocrites like Stewart-Cousins who pay fealty to powerful union thugs and bosses,” Loeb wrote, “do more damage to people of color than anyone who has ever donned a hood,” apparently referring to the Ku Klux Klan.
The post, quoted by the Times, championed another state senator, Jeff Klein, for his support of charter schools. “Thank God for Jeff Klein and those who stand for educational choice and support Charter funding that leads to economic mobility and opportunity for poor knack kids,” it read. (With “knack,” it seems he meant to write “black.”) Loeb, who is CEO of Third Point LLC, deleted the post late Thursday night, according to the paper, and issued a statement that reads, in part, “I regret the language I used in expressing my passion for educational choice. I apologize to Senator Stewart-Cousins and anyone I offended.”
Loeb has supported New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, whose spokesperson called the comments “entirely inappropriate,” according to the Washington Post, which also quotes a spokesperson for Stewart-Cousins saying that Loeb should be “ashamed of his disgusting comments.” A longtime supporter of charter schools, Loeb is the chair of the board of the Success Academy charter network. A report from Politico this afternoon says that he will continue in that position, and adds that a spokesperson for StudentsFirstNY, a group that supports charter schools that Loeb has funded, declined to comment.
Loeb currently sits on the boards of Sotheby’s and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles. Sotheby’s declined to comment on Loeb’s remarks, and a request for comment from MOCA was not immediately returned.
Art industry watchers may recall that Loeb, who is known for his activist letters to companies, lobbied in 2013 to depose the then-CEO of Sotheby’s, William Ruprecht. Loeb argued that the auction house was being poorly run and recounted, in one letter, “a story we heard of a recent offsite meeting consisting of an extravagant lunch and dinner at a famous ‘farm-to-table’ New York-area restaurant where Sotheby’s senior management feasted on organic delicacies and imbibed vintage wines at a cost to shareholders of multiple hundreds of thousands of dollars.” Ruprecht, who later stepped down, reportedly once referred to Loeb as “scum.” (Vanity Fair has collected excerpts of a number of Loeb’s notoriously contentious letters.)
In 2001, Loeb wrote a letter to an employee at Barbara Gladstone Gallery that expressed disappointment over how he was treated in regard to his attempt to acquire a Matthew Barney. That letter included the line: “Someone once told me that ‘litigation is the sport of kings’ and indeed, it is one that I seem to relish as I become more expert in its nuances.”