Hedge Fund Cash for Kids and Art: A Look at a $2 Million Museum Gift

With a net worth now estimated at $12 billion, Steve Cohen is roughly twice as rich as he was when the feds first started investigating his hedge fund, SAC Capital Advisors, a number of years ago. Last year, Cohen shut down SAC—which once had $16 billion under management—as part of a deal that forced the firm to plead guilty to several counts of securities fraud and pay $1.8 billion to Uncle Sam.

But none of that has stopped him from making money hand over fist, now through his giant family office, Point72. And with more wealth has come more giving, as we've reported. 

Related: Path to Redemption? The Future of Steve Cohen's Philanthropy

Just so you know, Cohen and his wife Alexandra were pretty generous well before the G-men came knocking, so while a quest for redemption may color Cohen's giving somewhat, there's no question about the couple's long-term commitment in this area.

Their philanthropy is not super-sophisticated, but it's consistently interesting and the scale is growing. Take, for example, a $2 million recent gift to the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York. 

As we've written before, art is a deep passion of the Cohens, along with children's health and education. Their foundation has given to MoMA, the Museum of Contemporary Art in LA, and other New York-based museums. 

Related: Ten Billion Bucks and a Passion for Picasso, Etc: Steve Cohen's ArtsPhilanthropy

Now comes this gift to the Whitney, which recently relocated to the Meatpacking District, not far from where Steve and Alex reportedly own real estate. The gift is unusual and kind of heartwarming, at least as far as museum donations go. Over the next five years, the $2 million will provide essential support for the museum’s education programs, which serve children, teens, seniors, and the community at large. 

Specifically—and we're quoting the press release, here—the money will "enable the museum to offer more free guided visits to students from New York City Schools; to expand public school and community partnerships; to serve a diverse group of teens through its renowned after-school programs; and to provide expanded art workshops and open access days for senior citizens and community members."

Nice, right? And it reflects a broader theme in arts philanthropy that we write about often: The desire of arts institutions to engage more with surrounding communities and, in particular, cultivate an interest in the arts early among young people. 

This gift also connects with other Cohen philanthropy aimed at expanding the horizons of underserved young people in New York City. Alex Cohen, remember, grew up in a poor Puerto Rican family in Washington Heights and hasn't forgotten where she came from. The Cohens are big supporters of education and health outfits that serve New York's low-income communities, not to mention the Robin Hood Foundation. 

Related: Why Steve Cohen, Richer Than Ever, Is Worried About Poor Kids in Harlem