Ken Griffin spends reported $500m on two Abstract Expressionist paintings

Billionaire hedge-funder is believed to have bought works by De Kooning and Pollock in one of the biggest private sale in history

The billionaire hedge-funder Ken Griffin has bought two Abstract Expressionist paintings for around $500m from the business magnate David Geffen’s foundation, according to Bloomberg Businessweek. The news was first reported in the industry newsletter Baer Faxt, although the buyer was not named.

Griffin purchased Willem de Kooning’s Interchange (1955) for around $300m and Jackson Pollock's Number 17A (1948) for around $200m in a deal reportedly completed last Fall. The paintings were both on view last September at the Art Institute of Chicago, where Griffin is a trustee.

The sale surpassed the $300m purchase of Paul Gauguin’s painting When Will You Marry (1892) by the Qatar Museums Authority in February 2015.

Otherwise, top-end sales for post-war and contemporary art have been down overall this year. Christie's contemporary art sale in London on 11 February pulled on £49.8m (£58.2m with premium), failing to met an estimate of £50.1m to £74.9m. A Sotheby's sale on 10 February was similarly lacklustre. It brought in £59.4m (£69.5m with premium) against an estimate of £60.2m-£86.1m.