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Top 200 Collectors

Kenneth C. Griffin

Kenneth C. Griffin

Chicago

Hedge fund

Post-Impressionism

Overview

The hedge fund billionaire, Kenneth C. Griffin, founder of Chicago-based Citadel, has had quite an interesting 2019. In January, he dropped $238 million on a four-floor penthouse in Manhattan, a property the Wall Street Journal deemed “America’s most expensive house.” Following Warren B. Kanders’s resignation as vice chair of the Whitney Museum’s board in July, Griffin, who is also a trustee at the museum, likewise said he would depart. He promptly un-resigned a few hours later.

Currently in Griffin’s collection are a prized Willem de Kooning painting (which he bought privately for $300 million from David Geffen), as well as works by Jackson Pollock, Paul Cézanne, Jasper Johns, and many more. He remains one of the most active art buyers globally. In 1999, he reportedly paid a record price of $60 million for Paul Cézanne’s painting Curtain, Jug and Fruit Bowl (ca. 1893).

In 2006, he bought Jasper Johns’s famous 1959 painting False Start (1959) from David Geffen for a reported $80 million. (The painting had already become famous in art-market history, when S. I. Newhouse, with dealer Larry Gagosian bidding on his behalf, purchased it at Sotheby’s in 1988 for a then-record price of $17 million.) That same year, Griffin underwrote a $19 million expansion of the Art Institute of Chicago. Designed by Renzo Piano, the new structure features Cézannes on loan from Griffin’s private collection. In 2015, he donated $40 million to the Museum of Modern Art and $10 million to the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. In 2018, Griffin donated $16 million to the Norton Museum of Art in West Palm Beach, Florida.

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