U.S. Could Pursue Art Collection of SAC Founder

"The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living" by Damien Hirst.
"The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living" by Damien Hirst.

One of the world's biggest art collectors, SAC founder Steven A. Cohen may lose some of his prized possessions now that the government has charged his $14 billion hedge fund with insider trading.

While Cohen himself was not indicted last week, his SAC Capital Advisors LP may pay with his own assets for the hundreds of millions, or billions, of dollars that the U.S. wants to recover from the fund.

Cohen is worth about $9 billion and owns works by the likes of Van Gogh, Manet, de Kooning, Picasso, Cezanne, Warhol, Johns, Hirst and Richter. He reportedly bought Damien Hirst's The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living, a tiger shark in formaldehyde, for more than $8 million from art dealer Charles Saatchi in 2004.

Prosecutors may go after his personal assets in their criminal case and a civil forfeiture lawsuit, claiming that some acquistions were made through illegally-made profits.

“When so many people from a single hedge fund have engaged in insider trading, it is not a coincidence,” Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said. “Today’s indictment is not just a narrative of names and numbers, it is more broadly an account of a firm with zero tolerance for low returns but seemingly tremendous tolerance for questionable conduct,” he said. “So SAC, over time, became a veritable magnet for market cheaters.”

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