NET WORTH: $13 billion
SOURCE of WEALTH: SAC Capital Advisors; Point72 Asset Management
FUNDING AREAS: Health (Pediatric, Lyme Disease, & Mental Health), Education, Arts & Culture, NYC Community, Veterans
OVERVIEW: Steve and his wife Alexandra have given away more than a quarter of a billion dollars over the last decade, a good portion of which has gone to NYC area hospitals, and the Robin Hood Foundation, where he is on the board. He was fined over a billion dollars for failing to prevent insider trading, but this does not seem to have slowed down his giving.
BACKGROUND: Steven A. Cohen grew up on Long Island, and attended the Wharton School at University of Pennsylvania before joining Gruntal & Co. as a junior trader in 1978, and eventually worked his way up to running his own trading group before founding his own trading firm, SAC Capital Advisors.
HEALTH: Most of the Cohens’ donations tend to be large sums to area hospitals, and the primary focus is generally on pediatric care. The Long Island Jewish Medical and North Shore University Hospital has received tens of millions to expand pediatric care, and the Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital at the NY Presbyterian Cornell Weill Medical Center has received $50 million. They also gave $17 million to help create the Steven and Alexandra Cohen Veterans Center for the Study of Post-Traumatic Stress and Traumatic Brain Injury at NYU Langone Medical Center. In late 2015, the couple gave $6.5 million to Lyme disease research, the largest amount ever donated according to the Bay Area Lyme Foundation, as well as $75 million to New York-Presbyterian Hospital in order to build a wing dedicated to newborns and their mothers.
EDUCATION: Cohen has contributed more than $36 million to Brown University. At least $6 million of that went to establish the Cohen Gallery at the university’s Granoff Center for the Creative Arts. Cohen has been a supporter of charter schools and education reform, supporting Achievement First, ConnCAN, and Harlem RBI, among others. The Equity Project Charter School (TEP) also received $3 million from the couple to support its music curriculum.
NYC COMMUNITY: Cohen and his wife have donated more than $100 million to the Robin Hood Foundation, which was founded by fellow hedge fund manager Paul Tudor Jones, and supports a variety of programs that aim to combat poverty in the New York City area. The couple supports other outfits in the Tri-State Area like the New York Restoration Project and Person to Person in Connecticut.
ARTS & CULTURE: Cohen is one of the world’s most active art buyers, and sits on the board of trustees to the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art, and pledged more than a million dollars to the museum. They have donated large sums to NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, recently gave $3 million to USC Cinematic Arts for scholarships, and more than $6 million Brown University’s Granoff Center for the Creative Arts. They also make a couple million dollars in smaller donations every year to museums and arts organizations of all shapes and sizes. These donations focus primarily on the New York City area, and tend to range from around $10,000 for smaller organizations like ArtsConnection or Creative Time, to closer to $100,000 for organizations like the Guggenheim or the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The Tribeca Film institute has also been a frequent recipient of donations.
The Cohens recently gave a $50 million gift to MoMA through the Steven and Alexandra Cohen Foundation. The MoMA will create the Steven and Alexandra Cohen Center for Special Exhibitions.
VETERANS: Cohen made a $275 million pledge to support military veterans and their families by opening up free mental-healthcare clinics across the country. The so-called Cohen Veterans Network will treat veterans who suffer from post-traumatic stress, and other mental health conditions free of charge.
LOOKING FORWARD: Responding to questions about his giving that resulted from his securities scandal, Cohen released a statement saying, “The Cohens expect to continue to increase their charitable giving in future years, as they have over the past decade." That’s good news for the organizations that have been the recipients of his philanthropy, which have generally stood by him. For example, the Robin Hood Foundation, “Steve Cohen is a valued and thoughtful member of Robin Hood's board, and his leadership and generosity over the past nine years has benefited countless New Yorkers in need. We are not asking him to step down, and we have no reason to believe that he will." It is possible that the scandal may even spur greater giving, or support for issues like financial ethics and education. In health, look for broader support of pediatric care, but the biggest donation that Cohen may make in the future may not actually be money, but his art collection, which is worth at least $700 million.