OVERVIEW: Founded in 2001, the Steven A. and Alexandra M. Cohen Foundation mainly funds in Connecticut and New York City, but its arts philanthropy has recently been reaching west, to Los Angeles.
IP TAKE: Former hedge fund manager Cohen has a fortune of over $10 billion and an intense interest in art, making him an arts philanthropist to watch carefully.
PROFILE: Despite his legal problems of recent years, Cohen's philanthropy shows no sign of slowing down and, indeed, the opposite pattern usually holds: tainted business leaders often see greater philanthropy as one way to rebuild their reputations.
Regardless, Cohen was involved in philanthropy well before his legal problems began, and, given his enormous wealth, the trajectory was clearly headed upward. In 2013, the Steven A. and Alexandra M. Cohen Foundation gave out more than $43 million.
The foundation has its hand in several different spaces. It's given its largest sums to health, where tens of millions have gone to Long Island Jewish Medical and North Shore University Hospital system. Contained within the system is the Cohen Children's Medical Center.
Apart from health, the foundation is deep into education, human services, and the arts. The Cohens have amassed a huge art collection that ranks as one of the top private collections in the world. Cohen recently bought Pablo Picasso’s painting “Le Reve” for $155 million from hotel and casino magnate Steve Wynn. Other purchases include Willem de Kooning’s “Woman III,” bought from David Geffen for $137.5 million in 2006.
The foundation has given more than $2.4 million to New York’s Museum of Modern Art in recent years, around a million to the Met, and more than half a million to New York’s Museo del Barrio, located just due north of the Museum Mile in East Harlem. Founded in 1969, El Museo specializes in Latin American and Caribbean art, with an emphasis on works from Puerto Rico and the Puerto Rican community in New York City. Alexandra is of Puerto Rican descent and grew up in Washington Heights.
The Cohens' biggest gifts in recent years have gone to the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) in Los Angeles where Cohen recently joined the board. In 2012, the foundation doled out a $1.3 million gift to MoCA. In 2013, $400,000 went to MoCA. Smaller sums have gone to Lincoln Center, the Guggenheim Foundation, the Katonah Museum of Art and the Bruce Museum of Arts and Science in Greenwich, Connecticut.
Keeping with the foundation's interests in education and youth, Cohen has been a steady supporter of several arts education programs such as ArtsConnection, Studio in a School, Creative Time and P.S. Arts in Venice, California.
The gift to P.S. Arts in 2012 mirrors the foundation's film grantmaking to LA-based American Film Institute and the Women's Image Network in that same year. We wouldn't be surprised if other Los Angeles arts institutions won support from the Cohens now that they're involved in that city's cultural life.
The foundation does not appear to accept unsolicited proposals.
Steven A. and Alexandra M. Cohen Foundation
P.O. Box 142
Greenwich, CT 06832
Telephone: (203) 422-0185