Bruce Kovner

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Bruce Kovner
Born (1946-04-25) April 25, 1946 (age 75)[1][2]
New York City, U.S.
Alma materHarvard University
OccupationHedge fund manager
Known forFounder, Caxton Associates
Spouse(s)Sarah Peter (divorced)
Suzie Fairchild
Children3 (including Rachel)

Bruce Stanley Kovner (born 1945) is an American investor, hedge fund manager, and philanthropist. He is chairman of CAM Capital, which he established in January 2012 to manage his investment, trading and business activities. From 1983 through 2011, Kovner was founder and chairman of Caxton Associates, LP, a diversified trading company.[4]

Kovner is chairman of the Juilliard School[5][6] and Vice Chairman of Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts.[7] He also serves on the Boards of the Metropolitan Opera,[8] and American Enterprise Institute.[9]

Early life and education[edit]

Bruce Stanley Kovner was born in New York City's Brooklyn borough to Isidore Kovner, an engineer who briefly played semi-professional football, and his wife, Sophie. Kovner spent his early years in the Borough Park section of Brooklyn with his parents and three siblings before the family relocated to suburban Los Angeles in 1953.[2][10][11] Early on, he was a high achiever, becoming a Merit Scholar. He was the student-body president of Van Nuys High School at 16, and an accomplished basketball player[10] and pianist.[12]

Kovner went to Harvard College starting in 1962, a time marred by the hanging suicide of his mother back in his family's Van Nuys home in 1965.[10] Nonetheless, he was considered a good student and was well liked by his classmates. Kovner stayed at Harvard, studying political economy at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, notably under prominent conservative scholar Edward C. Banfield.

Kovner did not finish his Ph.D., but continued his studies at Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government until 1970. Over the next few years, he engaged in a number of eclectic efforts; he worked on political campaigns, studied the harpsichord, was a writer, and a cab driver. It was during the latter occupation, not long after his marriage to now ex-wife Sarah Peter, that he discovered commodities trading.

Investment career[edit]

Kovner's first trade was in 1977 for $3,000, borrowed against his MasterCard, in soybean futures contracts. Realizing growth to $40,000, he then watched the contract drop to $23,000 before selling.[13] He later claimed that this first, nerve-racking trade taught him the importance of risk management.

In his eventual role as a trader under Michael Marcus at Commodities Corporation (now part of Goldman Sachs), he purportedly made millions and gained widespread respect as an objective and sober trader.[10] This ultimately led to the establishment of Caxton Associates, in 1983, which at its peak managed over $14B in capital and has been closed to new investors since 1992. Kovner was a director of Synta Pharmaceuticals from 2002 to 2016.[14][15]

In September 2011, Kovner announced his retirement from his position as CEO at Caxton, succeeded by Andrew Law.[16][17]

Kovner established CAM Capital in January 2012 to manage his investment, trading, and business activities.[18]

Philanthropy and political donations[edit]

Kovner established The Kovner Foundation in 1996 to support organizations that promote excellence in the arts and education, initiatives that defend private enterprise and protect individual rights, and scholarly studies and research that strengthen American democratic principles.[11][19]

A long-time supporter of The Juilliard School, Kovner has been chairman of the School's board since 2001.[20] In 2013 Bruce and his wife, Suzie Kovner, endowed the Kovner Fellowship Program at Juilliard with a gift of $60 million - the largest one-time gift to the school.[21] In 2012 Kovner donated $20 million to Juilliard to endow the school's graduate program in historical performance.[22][23] Kovner also donated a collection of music manuscripts to Juilliard in 2006.[21] Kovner is vice chairman of Lincoln Center for the performing arts as well as a major funder of the redevelopment of Lincoln Center. He is also managing director of the Metropolitan Opera's board of directors. Kovner founded and was chairman of the School Choice Scholarships Foundation, which awarded scholarships to financially disadvantaged youth in New York City.[11] He has actively supported other charter schools, such as the Success Academy Charter Schools, where his wife Suzie serves on the board.[24]

Kovner has contributed extensively to conservative causes. In January 2012 he donated around $500,000 to Restore our Future, a Super PAC supporting the presidential campaign of Mitt Romney.[25] He is the former chairman of the board of trustees of the American Enterprise Institute. His close acquaintances have included former Vice President Dick Cheney,[10] neoconservative figures Richard Perle and James Q. Wilson. Previously, he was a backer of the conservative Manhattan Institute and had invested in The New York Sun daily newspaper. A paper by Robert Brulle noted that his foundation funded conservative organizations that may have been involved in conservative climate change studies from 2003 to 2010.[26] The paper was criticized in The Guardian since the majority of organizations in the study have multiple focuses, and Brulle could not say what portion of money (if any) was devoted to climate issues.[27]

Other philanthropic causes he has supported include the Institute for Justice,[28] a public interest law firm that focuses on school choice; the Innocence Project[29] and Centurion Ministries,[30] which help serve wrongly-convicted inmates, and Lambda Legal,[31] which advocates for equality and civil rights for the LGBTQ community.

Personal life[edit]

Kovner has three children—including Rachel Kovner, a federal district judge in Brooklyn—and has been married twice.[18] In 1973, at age 28, he married artist Sarah Peter, in a Jewish ceremony in Connecticut. They divorced in 1998.[10] In 2007, he married Suzie Fairchild, the daughter of Robert Fairchild, and great-granddaughter of Louis Fairchild who founded the company with his brother, Edmund Fairchild, that became Fairchild Fashion Media, now a division of Condé Nast Publications.[2][32][33]

His Fifth Avenue mansion in New York City, the Willard D. Straight House, features a lead-lined room to protect against a chemical, biological, or dirty bomb attack.[10]

Legacy and awards[edit]

In 2008, he was inducted into the Institutional Investor's Alpha's Hedge Fund Manager Hall of Fame along with Alfred Jones, David Swensen, George Soros, Jack Nash, James Simons, Julian Roberston, Kenneth Griffin, Leon Levy, Louis Bacon, Michael Steinhardt, Paul Tudor Jones, Seth Klarman and Steven A. Cohen.[34]

Kovner is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences[35] and received an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from The Juilliard School.[36][37] In 2016 he awarded both the William E. Simon Prize for Philanthropic Leadership by the Philanthropy Roundtable[38][39] and the Alexander Hamilton Award by the Manhattan Institute.[40]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Juilliard Chairman Donates Trove of Rare Artifacts. NPR
  2. ^ a b c Bloomberg L.P. (2014) Bio for Bruce Kovner. Retrieved March 7, 2014 from Bloomberg Finance L.P.
  3. ^ Forbes: the World's Billionaires: Bruce Kovner November 2019
  4. ^ "Caxton Associates". StreetInsider.com. Retrieved January 5, 2014.
  5. ^ Times, Andrew Travers | The Aspen. "Damian Woetzel to leave Aspen Institute and Vail Dance Festival to serve as president of Juilliard School". www.aspentimes.com. Retrieved 2020-04-22.
  6. ^ "Bruce Kovner at The Juilliard School". www.juilliard.edu. Retrieved 2020-04-22.
  7. ^ "The 25 richest people in New York, ranked". Business Insider India.
  8. ^ "Board of Directors,"MetOpera.org, retrieved June 16, 2020.
  9. ^ "Board of Trustees,"aei.org, retrieved June 18, 2020.
  10. ^ a b c d e f g Weiss, Philip (24 July 2005). "George Soros's Right-Wing Twin". New York Magazine. Retrieved 16 January 2012.
  11. ^ a b c Brooks, Arthur (Fall 2015). "Interview with Bruce Kovner". Philanthropy Roundtable. Retrieved 2016-01-21.
  12. ^ "Is Music the Key to Success?" by Joanne Lipman, The New York Times, October 12, 2013
  13. ^ "Forbes 250 Richest Americans: #85 Bruce Kovner". Forbes. 2009.
  14. ^ "Bruce Kovner", profile at Synta Pharmaceuticals
  15. ^ "Synta Pharmaceuticals, Madrigal announce merger agreement". Reuters. 2016-04-14. Retrieved 2017-04-17.
  16. ^ "Caxton's Bruce Kovner to Step Down After 28 Years With Law to Become CEO". Bloomberg. Retrieved 14 March 2013.
  17. ^ "Yet Another Top Hedge Fund Manager Bruce Kovner Is Retiring". Business Insider. Retrieved 14 March 2013.
  18. ^ a b Forbes: the World's Billionaires: Bruce Kovner July 2017
  19. ^ "Kovner Foundation: Grants for Music". Inside Philanthropy. Retrieved 2016-01-21. Founded in 1996, the Kovner Foundation is run by billionaire Bruce Kovner and his wife Suzie. The couple is deeply passionate about music and has given out big money to select New York music institutions for years.
  20. ^ Juilliard (About) – Leaders
  21. ^ a b Kozinn, Allan (2013-10-09). "$60 Million Gift to Establish Fellowships at Juilliard". The New York Times. Retrieved 2016-01-21.
  22. ^ Oestreich, James (16 January 2012). "Juilliard School Announces $20 Million Gift for Early Music". The New York Times. Retrieved 16 January 2012.
  23. ^ Polisi, Joseph W. (December 2015). "A Dialog With Bruce Kovner". Juilliard Journal. Retrieved 2016-01-21.
  24. ^ "Success Academy | Board of Trustees". Success Academy. Retrieved 2020-05-04.
  25. ^ "Pro-Romney 'Super PAC' Spent $14 Million in January". The New York Times. 20 February 2012. Retrieved 20 February 2012.
  26. ^ Schultz, Colin (December 23, 2013). "Meet the Money Behind the Climate Denial Movement". Smithsonian. Retrieved June 10, 2019.
  27. ^ "Conservative groups spend up to $1bn a year to fight action on climate change". the Guardian. 2013-12-20. Retrieved 2020-05-04.
  28. ^ "A Couple of Givers: Bruce & Suzie Kovner, Part III". National Review. 2016-10-25. Retrieved 2020-05-04.
  29. ^ "Innocence Project 2018 Annual Report" (PDF). p. 16.
  30. ^ Lee, Allen (2019-10-19). "20 Things You Didn't Know About Bruce Kovner". Money Inc. Retrieved 2020-05-04.
  31. ^ "Lambda Legal 2017 Annual Report" (PDF). p. 16.
  32. ^ Business Insider: "The Hottest Hedge Fund Wives On Wall Street" by Courtney Comstock and Isabelle Schafer May 9, 2011
  33. ^ Women's Wear Daily: "Obituary: Robert Fairchild, 66" By Whitney Beckett February 18, 2009
  34. ^ "Cohen, Simons, 12 Others Enter Hedge Fund Hall". Institutional Investor. Institutional Investor LLC. 23 September 2008. Retrieved 16 June 2019.
  35. ^ "NEWLY ELECTED MEMBERS, JULY 2012" (PDF). amacad.org. American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2016-03-04. Retrieved 2017-04-13.
  36. ^ "Honorary Degrees Conferred". The Juilliard School. Archived from the original on 2017-05-17. Retrieved 2017-04-13.
  37. ^ "Viola Davis, Joyce DiDonato, Frank Owen Gehry, Philip Glass, Lar Lubovitch, Marcus Roberts, and Philanthropists Bruce and Suzanne F. Kovner to Receive Honorary Doctorates at Juilliard's 109th Commencement Ceremony". The Juilliard School. 2014-04-24. Archived from the original on 2017-05-17. Retrieved 2017-04-13.
  38. ^ "Announcing the 2016 William E. Simon Prize recipients". philanthropyroundtable.org. Philanthropy Roundtable. Archived from the original on 2016-10-06. Retrieved 2017-04-13.
  39. ^ Nordlinger, Jay (2016-10-24). "A Couple of Givers: Bruce & Suzie Kovner, Part I". National Review. Retrieved 2017-04-13.[permanent dead link]
  40. ^ "Alexander Hamilton 2016 Award Dinner". Manhattan Institute. 2016-05-09. Retrieved 2017-04-13.

Further reading[edit]

Schwager, Jack D. (1993). Market Wizards: Interviews with Top Traders. 36 pages: Collins; Reissue edition. ISBN 0-88730-610-1.CS1 maint: location (link)

External links[edit]