Why Steve Cohen, Connecticut Hedge Fund Billionaire, Gives So Much In New York

Billionaire Steve Cohen was born in Great Neck, New York before attending Wharton, working on Wall Street and then founding SAC Capital Advisors in Connecticut. Though his company (Point72) and foundation are based in Connecticut, Cohen and Alexandra are deeply connected to the city, where Alexandra was born and where they own property. 

Cohen is on the emeritus board at the Robin Hood Foundation, the leading anti-poverty funder in New York, which received more than $34 million from Cohen between 2010 and 2012. That's a ton of money, even given that Robin Hood famously vacuums in hedge fund cash. But the Cohens make a lot of other NYC giving on top of that. What's driving that generosity?

When one looks at the Cohens' grantmaking in the arts, health and education, a lot of it has personal roots. Consider, for instance, the couple's steady funding of Museo del Barrio, a Latin American and Caribbean arts museum located due north of Museum Mile where the Met and Guggenheim are located. The East Harlem museum has a penchant for paintings celebrating Puerto Rican culture, and Alexandra is of Puerto Rican descent.

What's more, Cohen and Alexandra are prominent art collectors, purchasing Picasso's "Le Reve" from casino magnate Steve Wynn for $155 million. The foundation has given more than $2.4 million to MoMA and nearly a million dollars to the Met. They've also given to the Brooklyn Museum. Cohen also recently joined the board of MoCA in Los Angeles, too. These people really love art.  

In health and education, Alexandra once again seems central to the couple's giving. She grew up in the working class neighborhood of Washington Heights and credits her parents for sending her to an all-girls Catholic school in the neighborhood, even though it was a struggle financially. That school, the now defunct Mother Cabrini High School, used to receive funds. A number of different scholarship programs, like Prep for Prep and charter schools like Achievement First, receive Cohen money. This fall, the Cohens gave $3 million to a charter school operating in Washington Heights. 

The Cohens' four daughters were all born at Mt. Sinai, and a number of different medical centers under the Mt. Sinai name have received funding. The couple has also given big to the Long Island Jewish Medical and North Shore University Hospital network, which received $55 million to expand pediatric care in 2010 and more than $10 million between 2011 and 2012.

The couple is deep into pediatric care, and Cohen money has been tapped to establish the Alexandra and Steven Cohen Pediatric Emergency Department at New York-Presbyterian Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center—the same hospital where Alexandra was born. And the Cohens have also underwritten the Steven & Alexandra Cohen Children's Medical Center of New York, which claims to be the largest provider of pediatric health services in New York. 

Steve Cohen's career obviously took a big hit from the federal investigation of his firm, SAC Capital, and now he's only managing his own fortune of over $10 billion. Judging by his past track record, that pile is likely to get a lot bigger in coming years. And so even though the Cohens have been ramping up their giving lately, it's likely that we'll see much greater giving in the years come, in New York City and beyond.

Related - Steven A and Alexandra M. Cohen Foundation