SAC Capital Advisors LP’s chief Steve Cohen paid casino mogul Steve Wynn $155 million to buy Pablo Picasso’s Le Reve. Art experts told Bloomberg that it’s the highest price a U.S. artwork collector has ever paid. Earlier in 2006, Wynn had offered to sell the same painting to Cohen for $139 million. But the deal didn’t work out as Wynn, who suffers from retinitis pigmentosa, put his elbow through it.
Le Reve, a painting of Picasso’s mistress Marie-Therese Walter, remained in the eyes of Steve Cohen as it went through repairing. Cohen purchased the painting after factoring in the restoration charges. The hedge fund manager is one of the Wall Street’s biggest artwork collectors owning works by Manet, Picasso, Van Gogh, de Kooning, Warhol and Cezanne. He started collecting paintings in 2001, and slowly his taste shifted to contemporary works from Impressionist.
Picasso saw 17-year old Marie-Therese Walter in 1927 on a Paris street. Picasso was a 45-year old married man back then, but Walter became his greatest love thereafter inspiring most of his most popular sculptures and paintings, according to Pablo Picasso’s biographer. Steve Cohen’s acquisition of the painting was first reported by NYPost, which didn’t identify the sources. However, it’s not the highest amount ever paid for an artwork. The royal family of Qatar paid over $250 million to buy Cezanne’s “Card Players” in 2011.
Steve Cohen’s hedge fund, which manages over $15 billion, was recently accused of insider trading by U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Earlier this month, the hedge fund agreed to pay a record $616 million to settle charges for carrying out trades using insider information that generated million of dollars of profit for the company. CR Intrinsic Investors, an affiliate of SAC Capital had used inside information about drug trials to trade the shares of two pharmaceutical companies, making $300 million in those trades.