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Ivy Schmerken
Ivy Schmerken
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Cohen Buys Picasso's Painting 'Le Rev' for $155 Million

Is it "coincidental" that hedge fund billionaire Cohen returns to the art scene after settling two insider trading cases for $616 million?

Steve Cohen, the billionaire founder and owner of SAC Capital Advisors, has purchased Picasso’s painting, “Le Rev” for $155 million from Las Vegas casino mogul Steve Wynn.

The sale of the painting marks the return of Cohen to the art scene after a year in which he has not been visible.

Cohen, who just settled two insider-trading lawsuits with the U.S. government for $616 million, was facing intense media coverage and speculation about whether the authorities would file more serious charges against his hedge fund firm. Some institutional clients had pulled some of their money, while the Blackstone Group, a top investor, stood by the firm. The $616 million fine was seen as a victory for Cohen, who could be celebrating the outcome by returning to the art world. He “bought himself a gift,” according to Bloomberg TV’s reporter. [The proposed SEC fine is the subject of a hearing on March 28 in a Manhattan federal court, notes Bloomberg.]

Cohen purchased the painting for a “whopping” $155 million, which is the highest price every paid for a piece of artwork by a U.S. collector, according to the Bloomberg story. However, a source told the New York Post — which was the first to report the story —that Cohen always wanted the painting and that the timing of the purchase was "coincidental."

The painting depicts Marie-Therese Walter, described in biographies as the married artist’s mistress, model and muse.

Wynn had previously agreed to sell “Le Rev” to Cohen in 2006, but Wynn whose vision was declining accidentally put his elbow through the painting. The sale price of $155 million factors in the cost of the restoration, according to experts quoted in the Bloomberg article.

Cohen, whose firm manages $15 billion in assets, of which 60 percent is his and employee’s money, is one of the art world’s biggest collectors, according to Bloomberg. Cohen is said to own works by Van Gogh, Manet, de Kooning, Picasso, Cezanne, Warhol, Johns and Richter.

In recent years, Cohen’s interest has shifted from Impressionism to contemporary works, suggested by his purchase of Damien Hirst, whose shark-in-formaldehyde he bought for $8 million.

Ivy is Editor-at-Large for Advanced Trading and Wall Street & Technology. Ivy is responsible for writing in-depth feature articles, daily blogs and news articles with a focus on automated trading in the capital markets. As an industry expert, Ivy has reported on a myriad ... View Full Bio
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