Kenneth C. Griffin

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Kenneth C. Griffin
Kenneth C. Griffin Headshot
Griffin in 2014
Born
Kenneth Cordele Griffin

(1968-10-15) October 15, 1968 (age 52)[1]
NationalityAmerican
Alma materHarvard University
OccupationHedge fund manager
Years active1990–present
Net worthUS$20.3 billion (November 2020)[3]
TitleFounder, CEO, and Co-CIO Citadel LLC[4]
Board member of
  • University of Chicago[5]
  • Whitney Museum[6]
  • Art Institute of Chicago[7]
  • Chicago Public Education Fund
  • Museum of Contemporary Art
  • Chicago Public Library Foundation
Spouse(s)Katherine Weingartt
(m. 2003; div. 2015)
Children3
AwardsInstitutional Investor's Hedge Fund Manager Hall of Fame

Kenneth Cordele "Ken" Griffin (born October 15, 1968) is an American billionaire hedge fund manager, entrepreneur and investor. He is the founder, chief executive (CEO), Co-Chief Investment Officer (Co-CIO) and majority owner of the investment firm Citadel. Citadel operates with an estimated $35 billion in investment capital.[8] Sister firm Citadel Securities handles 2 out of every 5 stock trades.[9][10]

Early life and education[edit]

Griffin was born in 1968 in Daytona Beach, Florida, the son of a building supplies executive,[11] and grew up in Boca Raton, Texas, and Wisconsin.[1] Griffin's father was a project manager for General Electric.[2][12]

Griffin went to middle school in Boca Raton[2] followed by Boca Raton Community High School, where he was the president of the math club.[1][13] In high school Griffin ran a discount mail-order education software firm out of his bedroom called EDCOM.[14] Griffin was featured in a 1986 Sun-Sentinel article titled "For team of Boca students, computer's screen is arena". Griffin states in the article that he thinks he will become a businessman or lawyer and goes on to say that he believes the job market for computer programmers will significantly decrease over the coming decade.[14]

Griffin started at Harvard College in the fall of 1986.[1] That year, Griffin first began investing after finding what he believed were inefficiencies in the convertible bonds market, which allows company bonds to be converted into stock.[1] He convinced school administrators to allow him to install a satellite dish on the roof of Cabot House for receiving stock quotes.[1] He also asked Terrence J. O’Connor, the manager of convertible bonds at Merrill Lynch in Boston, to open a brokerage account for him with $100,000 that Griffin had gotten from his grandmother, his dentist, and others.[2][1] His first fund launched in 1987 with $265,000, days after his nineteenth birthday.[1] The fund launched in time to profit from his short positions at the time of the stock market crash of October 19, 1987.[1] Griffin graduated in 1989 with a degree in economics.

Career[edit]

After graduating in 1989, Griffin moved to Chicago to work with the investor Frank Meyer, founder of Glenwood Capital Investments.[15] Meyer allotted $1 million of Glenwood capital for Griffin to trade.[15]

A year later in 1990, Griffin founded Citadel with assets under management of $4.6 million aided by contributions from Meyer.[15]

By 1998, Citadel had grown to a team of more than 100 employees and $1 billion in investment capital.

Wealth and investments[edit]

In 2003, aged 34, Griffin was the youngest self-made individual on the Forbes' Forbes 400 with an estimated net worth of $650 million.[16] In 2014, Griffin reportedly earned $1.3 billion including a share of his firm's management and performance fees, cash compensation and stock and option awards.

In 2016 Griffin reportedly earned $600 million in compensation from Citadel.[17]

In 2017 Griffin reportedly earned $1.4 billion in compensation from Citadel.[18][19]

In 2018 Griffin reportedly earned $870 million in compensation from the hedge fund segment of Citadel.[20]

In 2019 Griffin reportedly earned $1.5 billion of compensation from Citadel.[21]

As of October 2020 Griffin had an estimated net worth of US$15.8 billion, making him the 2nd richest person in Illinois and the 45th richest person in America.[3][22]

Griffin was the lead investor, losing 20 percent, in Aragon Global Management beginning in 2003 through to 2009 which was launched by his then wife Anne Dias Griffin, also seeded with money from New York investor Julian Robertson.[23]

According to Bloomberg News Griffin has around $5.4 billion of personal assets invested in Citadel's funds.[24]

In November 2020, his net worth surpassed $20 billion according to Bloomberg News due to an increase in returns and valuation from Citadel and Citadel Securities.[25] The increase was largely due to Citadel's sister firm Citadel Securities doubling their profit to $2.36 billion during the first half of the 2020 compared to $982 million for the same period the year before. The increase in revenue was due to increased volatility, volume and retail trader engagement.[26][27] As of November 2020 his 85% stake in Citadel Securities is worth an estimated $11.2 billion according to Bloomberg News.[25]

Political views[edit]

Ken Griffin's federal political contributions over the past 20+ years.

In 2012, Griffin identified as a Reagan Republican in an interview with the Chicago Tribune. He said the belief "that a larger government is what creates prosperity, that a larger government is what creates good" is wrong.[28]

During an interview with David Rubenstein Griffin criticized Elizabeth Warren's proposals saying "soaking the rich doesn't work".[29] Griffin has been criticized by Senator Elizabeth Warren for his real estate purchases.[30]

In September 2020 Griffin wrote an op-ed published in the Chicago Tribune stating his opposition to Gov. Pritzker's "Fair Tax" proposal that would change Illinois income tax from a flat tax to a graduated tax.[31][32] In an October 2020 email to Citadel's Chicago employees obtained by the Chicago Tribune and confirmed by a spokesman, Griffin wrote, “I am not willing to stand by as, once again, spineless politicians try to sell a trick disguised as a solution. Particularly not from a governor who, having inherited a great deal of wealth, has worked so diligently to avoid paying taxes himself ... Pritzker–a shameless master of personal tax avoidance–is well aware that many of the state’s top taxpayers will soon be decamping for states with more attractive tax policies. Under our federalist system, each state is free to compete to encourage companies and employees to join its community. Governors of Florida, Texas and other states have made compelling pitches for businesses – like Citadel – to leave Illinois.” In his email, Griffin said he was troubled by protesters who demonstrated outside Citadel’s headquarters and “misrepresented my deep commitment to the youth of our city.” He said his firm has “brought countless families to the state, led important philanthropic and community initiatives and, together, have made Illinois a better place to live and raise a family”.[33][34]

Griffin has pushed back on the characterization that he only supports republicans, saying in an interview with David Rubenstein "I've supported over the years candidates on both sides of the aisle ... I was an early supporter of President Obama because he came to me to be the education secretary. You want my vote you want my support that's the issue, you come to me and you say I will fight for education in America".[29]

Griffin skipped a signing ceremony for the phase-one trade deal with China at the White House creating an awkward moment with Pres. Trump saying "Ken Griffin, Citadel. What a guy he is. Where are you, Ken? Where the hell is he? He’s trying to hide some of his money. Look, he doesn’t want to stand up. Where the hell is Ken? See, Steve, you’ll stand, and he’s very quiet about it. He’s in here someplace; he just doesn’t want to stand." A Citadel PR rep later said that Griffin was invited but confirmed he was unable to attend.[35][36][37][38]

Griffin criticized President Trump's tweets berating FED Chairman Jerome Powell calling the tweets "completely inappropriate for the president of the United States".[39][40][41][37]

While being interviewed by Paul Tudor Jones at the 2020 Robin Hood investor conference, Griffin criticized Joe Biden's plans to raise the long-term capital gains rate.[42][43]

Political donations[edit]

Super-PAC/Outside Group/Party Contributions[edit]

After the 2007–08 financial crisis, Griffin made political donations to conservative political candidates, parties, and organizations such as American Crossroads and the Republican Governors Association.

In 2015, Griffin donated $5.855 million to Conservative Solutions Project, Freedom Partners Action Fund, Right to Rise, and Future45.[44]

In December 2015, Griffin endorsed Marco Rubio for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination and stated that he planned to donate millions to a pro-Rubio super PAC.[45] Before this endorsement, Griffin had donated $100,000 each to three super PACs supporting Rubio, Jeb Bush, and Scott Walker for the GOP nomination.[45]

In March, 2020, Griffin contributed $1 million to the 1820 PAC created to support the re-election bid of U. S. Senator Susan Collins in Maine.[46] In late 2020 Griffin donated another $500,000 to the 1820 PAC.[47]

Griffin Super-PAC/Outside Group/Party Contributions as of October 2020 ($250k minimum)[48]
Date Amount Recipient Associated Party/Candidate Date Amount Recipient Associated Party/Candidate
06-15-2020 $3,000,000 Congressional Leadership Fund Republican (House of Representatives) 09-22-2014 $700,000 American Crossroads Republican
06-15-2020 $3,000,000 Congressional Leadership Fund Republican (House of Representatives) 08-27-2020 $500,000 1820 PAC Sen. Susan Collins
12-14-2015 $2,500,000 Conservative Solutions PAC Sen. Marco Rubio (2016 Presidential Election) 10-09-2012 $500,000 Restore Our Future Sen. Mitt Romney (2012 Presidential Election)
02-05-2016 $2,500,000 Conservative Solutions PAC Sen. Marco Rubio (2016 Presidential Election) 12-30-2015 $500,000 Ending Spending Action Fund Republican
08-09-2016 $2,000,000 Senate Leadership Fund Republican (Senate) 06-19-2020 $500,000 Better Future Michigan Fund John James
11-24-2015 $2,000,000 Freedom Partners Action Fund Republican 06-19-2020 $500,000 Better Future Michigan Fund John James
10-18-2018 $2,000,000 Congressional Leadership Fund Republican (House of Representatives) 11-25-2019 $500,000 Congressional Leadership Fund Republican (House of Representatives)
05-07-2020 $2,000,000 Congressional Leadership Fund Republican (House of Representatives) 10-25-2018 $400,000 Ending Spending Action Fund Republican
07-12-2018 $1,500,000 Congressional Leadership Fund Republican (House of Representatives) 08-01-2011 $300,000 American Crossroads Republican
08-02-2017 $1,000,000 Congressional Leadership Fund Republican (House of Representatives) 04-10-2014 $300,000 Ending Spending Action Fund Republican
08-03-2016 $1,000,000 Congressional Leadership Fund Republican (House of Representatives) 10-30-2018 $250,000 Missouri Rising Action Sen. John Hawley
06-28-2019 $1,000,000 Congressional Leadership Fund Republican (House of Representatives) 04-15-2015 $250,000 Future45 Pres. Donald Trump
03-13-2020 $1,000,000 1820 PAC Sen. Susan Collins 03-27-2014 $250,000 American Crossroads Republican
10-23-2018 $1,000,000 Future45 Pres. Donald Trump 10-25-2010 $250,000 American Crossroads Republican
03-26-2012 $850,000 Restore Our Future Sen. Mitt Romney (2012 Presidential Election) 10-16-2018 $250,000 American Patriots PAC Republican
09-22-2014 $800,000 Ending Spending Action Fund Republican 10-17-2014 $250,000 Arkansas Horizon Republican
03-28-2012 $700,000 American Crossroads Republican 12-30-2015 $250,000 Fighting For Ohio Fund Republican

Individual Contributions[edit]

Griffin has individually supported many candidates including:[49]

Other Contributions[edit]

In 2020, Griffin donated $20 million to the Coalition To Stop The Proposed Tax Hike Amendment, a group opposing the Illinois Fair Tax in its 2020 referendum.[32][50] Weeks later he donated another $26.75 million to the Coalition.[51][52] Griffin later donated another $7 million to the group bringing his total contributions to $53.75 million.[53]

In 2020, Griffin donated $2 million to an anti-retention effort for Justice Thomas Kilbride a democrat on the Illinois supreme court.[54][55]

Philanthropy[edit]

In October 2009, Griffin and his wife founded the Kenneth and Anne Griffin Foundation. The foundation is particularly focused on donations to public schools and libraries.[11]

The Griffins have previously worked with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in the promotion of charter schools in the US.[1] The couple have worked with University of Chicago economics professor John A. List to test whether investment in teachers or in parents produces better student performance outcomes.[56]

At the beginning of 2014, Griffin made a $150 million donation to the financial aid program at Harvard University, his alma mater, the largest single donation ever made to the institution at the time.[57]

In 2014, he was elected to a five-year term on the University of Chicago's board of trustees. He is also a member of a number of organizations including the Economic Club of Chicago, and the civic committee of the Commercial Club of Chicago.[58] Griffin is the vice chairman of the Chicago Public Education Fund.[57]

In November 2017, the Kenneth C. Griffin Charitable Fund announced that it intends to make a new $125 million gift to support the Department of Economics of the University of Chicago, which will be renamed the Kenneth C. Griffin Department of Economics.[5]

Museums[edit]

With total donations totalling $21.5 million the Field Museum of Natural History renamed their Griffin funded dinosaur exhibit the Griffin Dinosaur Experience. And opened in the Griffin Halls an exhibit titled Evolving Planet that chronicles the earth's history from its beginnings.[59]

In October 2019, the Kenneth C. Griffin Charitable fund announced a $125 million gift to the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago, the largest gift in the museum's history.

Arts, poverty, and health[edit]

In 2010, Griffin contributed to Chicago Symphony Orchestra's productions at Millennium Park.[11] He supported the University of Chicago's Center for Urban School Improvement, a program encouraging the construction of an inner-city charter high school.[11] That same year, Griffin contributed to the Chicago Children's Memorial Hospital.[60]

In 2017, Griffin contributed $15 million to the Robin Hood Foundation.[61]

In March 2020 in response to the COVID-19 epidemic, Griffin contributed $2.5 million to "the fund to support food services for Chicago Public School families". $1 million of that donation went to CPS and the rest was directed to the Greater Chicago Food Depository.[62]

Honors and Recognition[edit]

Art collection[edit]

Griffin is an active modern and contemporary art buyer.[6] He buys art from mainstream artists.[68] His portfolio is valued at close to $800 million.[69]

Griffin's collection of modern paintings include his purchase in 1999, of Paul Cézanne's painting Curtain, Jug and Fruit Bowl for a record $60 million at the time.[1] Griffin's 2016 purchases from David Geffen of Willem de Kooning's 1955 oil painting, Interchange for $300 million, and Jackson Pollock's 1948 painting, Number 17A, for $200 million.[7]

In terms of contemporary art, Griffin purchased False Start by artist Jasper Johns for $80 million in October 2006 from David Geffen.[70] In 2015, he purchased Gerhard Richter's 1986 painting Abstract Picture, 599 for $46 million.[68]

Griffin has donated money to multiple art museums, beginning primarily in the 2000s. He has been on the Board of Trustees of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago since 2000 and regularly supports its exhibitions.[71]

In July 2007, Griffin donated a $19 million addition to the Art Institute of Chicago that was designed by Renzo Piano and named Kenneth and Anne Griffin Court.[72] The Paul Cézanne paintings have also been loaned to the Institute.[11]

As of 2010, Griffin had contributed to the Art Institute of Chicago.[1] He serves on the Board of Trustees at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York as of 2010, whose lobby bears his name: Kenneth C. Griffin Hall.[6] In February 2015, Griffin donated $10 million to the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago and used to create the Griffin Galleries of Contemporary Art.[71][73]

In December 2015, he donated an unrestricted $40 million to the Museum of Modern Art in New York.[6]

In June 2020, it was reported that Griffin purchased Boy and Dog in a Johnnypump (1982) by Jean-Michel Basquiat for upwards of $100 million.[74] It is among the most expensive paintings ever purchased. Griffin announced the artwork would be put on public display.[75] He loaned the painting to the Art Institute of Chicago.[76]

Real Estate[edit]

In January 2019, Griffin purchased 4 unfurnished floors at 220 Central Park South (pictured) for $238 million breaking the record for the most expensive home ever sold in the United States.

Griffin owns an expansive private luxury real estate portfolio valued at around $1 billion.[77]

In 2011 Griffin purchased two oceanfront homes at the Four Seasons Hualalai resort in Hawaii for $28 million.[77][78][79][80]

In 2019 Griffin purchased a Georgian mansion at 3 Carlton Gardens in London for $122 million. The purchase broke several records.[81][82][83][84]

In 2019 Griffin set the record for the most expensive residential sale ever closed in the US when he purchased roughly 24,000 square feet across three floors at 220 Central Park South for $238 million. The space was "raw space" meaning Griffin had to build it out.[77][85][86][87][88] Several New York real estate experts have said that the purchase helped fuel legislation that increased taxes on luxury homes in New York.[77][89][90][91] During an interview with David Rubenstein Griffin said that the purchase represented the possibility of making New York City his home in the future.[92]

In 2009 Griffin purchased a full floor apartment at 820 Fifth Avenue in New York City for $40 million.[77][93][94]

In 2015 Griffin purchased two apartments at the top of the Faena House, a condominium in Miami Beach for $60 million. Griffin later put the two apartments on the market for $73 million but they didn't attract a buyer and were taken off the market.[77][95][96][97]

For a decade Griffin has been buying large parcels of land in Palm Beach to assemble one of the largest private waterfront sites in the county with plans to build a grand estate. As of October 2020 these purchases total to $350 million.[77][98][99][100][101]

In 2017 Griffin who is a resident of Chicago purchased a penthouse apartment atop the No. 9 Walton a luxury condo tower. The purchase broke the record for the most expensive sale in Chicago's history. The condo was delivered as "raw space" so that Griffin could build it out to his liking.[77][102][103][104] Griffin also owns a full floor penthouse at the Waldorf Astoria private residences across the street from No. 9 Walton. Records show he purchased the penthouse for $6.884 million in 2010.[77]

In early 2020 Griffin purchased a oceanfront Hamptons compound from fashion designer Calvin Klein in an off-market deal that reportedly closed at close to $100 million.[105][106][107][108][109][110][111]

In 2013 and 2015 Griffin purchased homes in Aspen Colorado for $10 million and $12.8 million respectively.[77][112][113][114]

In August 2020, Griffin purchased three properties on Miami's Star Island for $60 million.[115][116][117]

Personal life[edit]

Griffin's first wife was Katherine Weingartt, his high school sweetheart. The couple divorced.[118]

In 2002 Griffin met his second wife Anne Dias-Griffin after being setup on a blind date by a mutual friend.[119] She is a French graduate of Harvard Business School who had worked at Goldman Sachs, Soros Fund Management, and Viking Global prior to starting Chicago-based $55 million firm[120] Aragon Global Management.[121] The couple married in July 2003[23] and had three children.[121] A 2007 profile of the couple states "Anne Dias Griffin is the champagne to Ken Griffin’s Budweiser."[122]

In July 2014 Mr. Griffin filled a divorce petition in Cook County Illinois citing "irreconcilable differences" with his wife.[123][124] According to the divorce petition filled by Mr. Griffin, the couple had entered into a prenuptial agreement which governed the split of their assets in the event of a divorce.[121][125][126][127] As part of the agreement Ms. Anne Griffin received $22.5 million at the beginning of their marriage and received an additional $1 million each year they were married.[123][125] In court fillings Ms. Dias Griffin claimed that she had been forced to sign the prenuptial agreement.[128][129][130] In later court filings Ms. Anne Griffin requested $1 million per month in child support payments.[131][132] The breakdown included $300k per month for private jet travel, $160k per month for vacation rentals and $60k per month for office space and staff.[133][134][135] Mr. Griffin claimed that Ms. Anne Griffin was attempting to use child support to fund her "opulent lifestyle".[136] During the divorce Ms. Anne Griffin requested $450,000 for a 10 day vacation to St. Barts over winter break with their 3 children. Mr. Griffin denied her request but agreed to pay $45k for a winter vacation.[137][138][119] Mr. Griffin and Ms. Anne Griffin finalized their divorce in October 2015.[139] The divorce was settled out of court just hours before a public trial over the prenup agreement was set to begin.[123] Mr. Griffin maintains joint custody of his children with his ex-wife.[123] The divorce drew much press and tabloid attention.[140][141][142][143][144][145] In an interview with the WSJ Mr. Griffin called the experience "a chapter I wish I could edit out".[146][147]

Griffin is a member of the Fourth Presbyterian Church of Chicago.[148] In 2011, Griffin donated $11 million of the $38.2 million needed to build a new chapel at the church.[148] The modern building is called "The Gratz Center" in honor of Griffin's grandparents.[148]

Griffin is very media-shy and rarely gives interviews.[37][149][150] Griffin often buys the rights to photos of him to keep them out of circulation.[122] During 2007 interview he said "We zealously guard our private life".[122]

Bibliography[edit]

Op-ed[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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Further reading[edit]