While the country burns and millions of Americans scramble to figure out how they're going to survive once supplemental unemployment benefits expire, Citadel founder Ken Griffin has just dropped a $100 million nut - nearly half the amount he dropped on a Central Park penthouse, and roughly equivalent to the cost of his wintertime Palm Beach Mansion - on a contemporary painting by American artist Jean Michel Basquiat, who died of a drug overdose in 1988.
Bloomberg's story about the purchase reported that Basquiat's work focused on issues of "race and inequality".
One of Griffin's PR reps pointed out that the "the vast majority" of the Wall Street titan's art collection was on display in museums.
"The vast majority of Ken’s art collection is on display at museums for the public to enjoy" said Zia Ahmed, a Citadel spokesman. He intends to share this piece as well."
But Zero Hedge was unable to independently verify this.
The piece Griffin purchased, “Boy and Dog in a Johnnypump” (1982), was long considered a prized possession of newsprint magnate Peter Brant, but isn't widely known to the public. According to BBG, values for Basquiat works have soared since the painter's death in 1988. Three years ago, a Basquiat painting set a record for an American artist when it fetched $110.5 million at Sotheby’s auction.
News of the sale was first announced in an art world newsletter, though the newsletter didn't identify the purchaser.
Griffin is notorious for a ~$800 million real-estate buying spree that spanned several years, culminating with his ~$240 million purchase of a penthouse on "Billionaire's Row".
We wouldn't want this painting hanging in our foyer, but several other bidders vied with Griffin for the painting (as for why there might be such intense demand for art by a black American contemporary artist at the outset of a punishing recession, we'll let readers parse that one on their own).
We suspect Griffin feels zero guilt about his big splurge. When asked why the younger generation has become so "disillusioned" with capitalism, Griffin blamed government intervention in the student loan market, one of several factors that has led to the ballooning economic inequality in the US.
Plus, thanks to the massive resurgence in Fed-induced economic inequality, Griffin and his fellow billionaires are still feeling the "wealth effect". While more than 30 million Americans sign up for the unemployment rolls, the combined wealth of America’s billionaires jumped over 19% (or half a trillion) since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.