BESS LEVIN, 30 May 2017
While SAC Capital pleaded guilty to insider trading in 2013, paying $1.8 billion in fines, the hedge fund’s founder, Steven A. Cohen, walked away relatively unscathed. In 2016, he agreed to a temporary, two-year ban by the Securities and Exchange Commission that prevents him from supervising a registered fund until January 1, 2018. He never faced criminal charges despite years of being investigated by the government and then-U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, who appeared at one point to make jailing Cohen his life’s work; he wasn’t banned from the securities industry for life; and his net worth, which these days is said to hover around $13 billion, was barely affected.
Still, the downfall of SAC Capital hit Cohen in other ways. SAC, which took its name from Cohen’s initials, was converted into a family office and renamed the sterile-sounding Point72 Asset Management, rendering many a fleece jacket worthless. Outside money had to be returned to investors. And, as a family office, Cohen was unable to charge the high fees SAC once commanded. Top talent proceeded to exit the new firm.
At Cohen’s age of 60 years old (61 on June 11!) and with his personal fortune that, to ordinary humans, might as well be infinite, some wondered whether he would simply wind down the operation and retire, giving up the stress to enjoy a life that includes a 35,000-square-foot home in Greenwich, a couple of West Village mansions, and a brand-new house in the Hamptons (he tore down the dump he paid $62.5 million for); a priceless art collection made up of pieces by Pablo Picasso, Jasper Johns, Andy Warhol, Alberto Giacometti, and Willem de Kooning; and the friendship of one Guy Fieri.