The hedge funder and art collector Steven Cohen gave $1m toward President Donald Trump’s sparsely attended inauguration. Cohen is among the many high-net-worth individuals whose names are familiar to those in the art world listed in a 510-page document disclosed by the administration to the Federal Elections Committee on Tuesday.
Cohen’s art collection is estimated to be worth $1bn—a fraction of his $11bn fortune—and his purchases regularly make headlines. In 2008, he bought The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living, Damien Hirst's pickled shark, for a reported $8m. In 2006, he purchased Willem De Kooning’s Woman III (1952-53) from David Geffen for $137.5m, still one of the largest private transactions in the history of art sales.
During this election, there was no limit on the amount individuals were allowed to donate to the inauguration. The casino magnate and Republican backer Sheldon G. Adelson, for example, gave $5m—the largest single political gift in US history. Adelson’s Venetian casino in Las Vegas once held a joint outpost of the Guggenheim and Hermitage museums, which showed works on loan from the two international collections.
Other donors include Henry Kravis, the husband of MoMA’s president Marie-Josée, who gave $1m; Hushang Ansary, the former Iranian ambassador to the US who helped fund the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston's new Islamic art collection, with his wife Shahla gave a combined $2m; the hedge funder and philanthropist Paul Singer, who partnered with the Museum of the Bible to launch a programme to bring college students to Israel, gave $1m; Wynn Resorts, the company owned by collector Steve Wynn, which gave $729,217; the casino billionaire Frank Fertitta, who was caught up in the Knoedler forgery, gave $207,000; and Chicago collector Kenneth Griffin, who gave $100,000. Among the many corporate donors was Bank Of America, which sponsors free admission through its Museums on Us initiative, which gave $1m.
In total Trump raised $107m, twice what Barack Obama raised in 2009, the previous record. But Trump’s inauguration was estimated to have between 250,000 to 600,000 attendees, compared to Obama’s 1.8 million.