Kings Of Alts, Kings Of Art

Jul 19 2007 | 1:50pm ET

Art collecting is evidently much more than a hobby for some high-powered hedge fund and private equity honchos.

Three alternatives moguls are among the top 10 most active buyers of art, according to the magazine ARTnews. In addition to such well-known art lovers as SAC Capital’s Steve Cohen and Citadel Investment Group’s Kenneth Griffin, buyout king Henry Kravis of Kohlberg Kravis Roberts also makes the top 10. ARTnews lists both the top 10 and top 200 art buyers, without ranking them or specifying how much each spent in the past year.

In a karmic sign, while Cohen moves into the top tier, casino mogul Steve Wynn—who had agreed to sell Cohen one of his Pablo Picasso masterpieces for some $139 million before an unfortunate meeting of Wynn's elbow and Picasso's canvas—falls into the hoi polloi of the mere top 200 buyers.

Other American hedge fund managers in the top 200 include Level Global’s David Ganek, Third Point’s Daniel Loeb and Exis Capital’s Adam Sender.

The magazine says little about its 200 luminaries beyond name, residence(s) and art-collecting proclivities. Cohen is said to favor “impressionism” and “modern and contemporary art,” Griffin “impressionism” and “post-impressionism,” Ganek “contemporary art and photography,” Loeb “postwar and contemporary art” and Sender “contemporary art.”

Kravis, it seems, likes (and can afford) everything. He collects “Old Master drawings and paintings; Impressionism; 20th-century art; French furniture,” according to ARTnews.

Of course, the three art-collecting leaders of the alternatives world probably didn’t need the validation from a magazine. Earlier this week, Cohen made news when he lent his iconic Damien Hirst piece, “The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living,” to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. The Met’s press release quite accurately describes the 1991 work as “a 13-foot tiger shark in a glass tank of formaldehyde,” though it is not the same tiger shark Hirst put in the tank 16 years ago: The artist replaced the decaying carcass soon after Cohen bought the piece from fellow top-tenner Charles Saatchi in 2004.

Griffin and his wife last year gave $19 million to the Art Institute of Chicago to get their names on the “Great Court” of the museum’s planned modern wing. And Kravis’ wife Marie-Josée serves as president of New York’s Museum of Modern Art.

Damien Hirst's 'The Physical Impossibility...'Damien Hirst's 'The Physical Impossibility...'

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