Sender to Sell $70 Million of Art After Closing Exis Fund

Adam Sender, one of the first hedge-fund managers to get serious about contemporary art, is putting much of his collection on the auction block after shutting his firm Exis Capital Management Inc.

About 400 works by 139 artists, including pieces by Cindy Sherman, Richard Prince and Dan Flavin, will be offered over the course of 18 months, according to Sotheby’s, which will start selling the pieces in May in New York. The collection is likely to bring in more than $70 million, the auction house said yesterday in an e-mailed statement.

Sender, 45, who worked for Steven A. Cohen’s SAC Capital Advisors LP before starting Exis in 1998, was one of the first among the new generation of hedge-fund managers at that time to to start collecting contemporary art. The group also included Cohen and Third Point LLC’s Daniel Loeb.

“I never could have envisioned the adventure I was embarking on, the passion and at times obsession I would come to have for collecting,” Sender said in the statement.

Sherman’s photo “Untitled #93,” which Sender bought in 1998, is estimated at $2 million to $3 million, according to Sotheby’s. The color photograph from Sherman’s series known as “Centerfolds” fetched $96,000 at Christie’s in New York in 1998, according to the auction price database compiled by Artnet Worldwide Corp.

Buying Masterpiece

John Baldessari’s “Commissioned Painting: A Painting by Edgar Transue,” purchased in 2001, may bring $2 million to $3 million. Prince’s “Untitled (Cowboy),” which was also acquired in 2001, is valued at $1 million to $1.5 million.

“I was trying to buy the very best work,” Sender said in a 2011 interview with Bloomberg News. “It was not possible to afford the very best Warhols but you could buy a masterpiece by Richard Prince for $100,000 or $150,000.”

Todd Levin, director of New York-based Levin Art Group, said he helped Sender assemble the bulk of the collection from 1998 to 2008.

Prices for many artists in the collection rose along with the contemporary art market in the 2000s. In a 2007 interview with Bloomberg News, Sender said he recouped most of the $25 million he spent in the previous decade through the sale of about 40 pieces.

“Who makes that kind of money in the stock market?” he said in the interview. “In the hedge-fund business these days, you’re having a great year if you make 20 percent.”

Contemporary works helped lift global art sales last year to 47.4 billion euros ($65.3 billion) with the U.S. representing 38 percent of the market by volume, according to a report compiled by Arts Economics and published this month by the European Fine Art Foundation. Sotheby’s, which is battling Loeb over board seats and the direction of the company, sold $6.3 billion of arts and collectibles last year, a 17 percent increase over the prior period.

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