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STEVEN COHEN, TARGET?

May 10, 2011

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The New York Times took a half-hearted potshot at hedge-fund billionaire and super-collector Steven A. Cohen in "Business Day" section last Saturday, penning a story with a lead noting that the "once-secretive" Cohen "is suddenly everywhere." And it's half-true: While Cohen is as secretive as ever when it comes to his investment business, he has had a higher profile in the news pages, whether it’s showing up at the Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute gala on May 2 or making a bid to buy a piece of the New York Mets. [Image: Steven A. Cohen illustrated in the New York Times.]

As it turns out, Cohen also sold a Fauve landscape by Maurice de Vlaminck for a record $22.5 million at Christie's New York last week (Acquavella Galleries was reportedly the buyer) and is selling an Andy Warhol portrait of Elizabeth Taylor at Phillips de Pury & Co. on May 12. The estimate is $20 million.

But what about the "Titan under the Microscope," as the NYT headlines its story? Federal prosecutors are taking a look at trades Cohen made in his $12 billion hedge fund at SAC Captial Advisors, according to the report -- trades that were "suggested" by two other SAC traders who have pled guilty to insider trading charges. What's more, Iowa Republican Senator Charles E. Grassley is said to be seeking information on "suspicious trading activity" at SAC.

Neither Cohen nor SAC have been accused of any wrongdoing, the NYT notes. The paper does suggest that a "cowboy culture" at the firm, not to mention intense pressure to produce, could lead to temptations to cut corners. In closing, the report notes that Cohen has donated $50 million to the new Cohen Children's Medical Center on Long Island. As for the stock market, "everything I'm seeing today looks bullish," he says.

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