Greenspan Paintings Make Some Hedgies Turn Red

Feb 22 2010 | 11:00am ET

Here’s one investment that’s turned sour for the hedge fund crowd: portraits of former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan.

Canvasses of the man once praised for his sagacity once went for as much as $10,000. That, it appears, was yet another case of irrational exuberance, as Greenspan’s reputation has taken a hit since he left office in 2006, blamed by many for helping grease the wheels for the economic crisis.

“What I should do is make them into a dart board,” Charles Gradante of hedge fund consultancy Hennessee Group, told The Wall Street Journal. Gradante and his wife, Lee Hennessee, own four portraits of Greenspan, including two paintings.

“All I see when I look at these paintings are two market crashes, a bear market, and the current economic crisis.”

For her part, Hennessee remains loyal to Greenspan, calling one of the paintings, by the artist Erin Crowe, “wonderful.”

Hedge fund manager David Norcom has soured on Greenspan, but not on his painting of the five-term Fed chairman. “There is not one person who comes to my office that doesn’t talk about it,” he told the Journal.

“It’s a conversation starter,” he added. “Man, everyone thought he was hot, but he turned out to be a dog.”

Canine or no, Greenspan still tops his successor, Ben Bernanke, in one respect.

Crowe, the portraitist, said she was recently commissioned to do a painting of Bernanke. But her client, who had paid $10,000 for one of her roughly 50 Greenspans, was only paying $5,000 this time around.

“I thought, ‘Yikes,’” she told the Journal. “That is a hefty pay cut.”

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