Steven A. Cohen, one of the richest men in the U.S., has purchased Picasso’s Le Rêve from Vegas mogul Steve Wynn for $155 million, which is estimated to be the highest ever paid for an artwork by a US collector, reports the New York Post.
What’s more, Cohen–whose hedge fund manages $14 billion in assets–was supposed to have purchased the painting back in 2006 for a just $139 million. But the day after the deal was made Wynn accidentally knocked his elbow through the painting when he was showing it off to friends, including Nora Ephron, creating a six-inch tear in the canvas.
However in light of Cohen’s recent settlement involving two insider trading lawsuits with the government for $616 million–perhaps the the largest-ever settlement of an insider-trading action–“this was supposed to be a top secret sale,” a source told the Post.
Another source said that the timing is just a coincidence, and that Cohen has coveted this particular Picasso, which depicts the artist’s then 22-year-old mistress, Marie-Thérèse Walter, for some time.
Le Rêve isn’t the first expensive work of art the billionaire behind the firm SAC Capital Advisors has purchased. After he made his fortune, Cohen went on a fine art spending spree in the mid-2000s: “It’s estimated that Cohen spent $300 million on his collection in just five years,” according to the Associated Press. “He purchased Willem de Kooning’s Woman III for more than $130 million from entertainment mogul David Geffen. A mere $8 million landed a more obscure piece by British artist Damien Hirst — a 14-foot (4.2-meter) tiger shark submerged in formaldehyde.”
The purchase goes against reports that Cohen was considering selling some of the works from his impressive art collection after SAC Capital investors asked to withdraw $1.68 billion following the insider trading civil lawsuit.