Citadel’s Griffin Gives $10 Million to Chicago Art Museum

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Billionaire hedge fund manager Ken Griffin has given $10 million to the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago through his charity.

The gift by the Kenneth C. Griffin Charitable Fund will be used to create the Griffin Galleries of Contemporary Art, the museum said in a statement Friday. The gift is part of the museum’s Vision Campaign to raise $64 million for programming, which has reached $60 million in private donations toward the goal.

“The Vision Campaign is about great art and ideas -- that connect with the community and propel the MCA as a leader in the cultural economy,” Madeleine Grynsztejn, the museum’s Pritzker director, said in the statement.

Griffin, 46, whose net worth of $5.9 billion ranks 235th on Bloomberg’s Billionaires Index, collects modern and contemporary art including works by Paul Cezanne and Jasper Johns. He is the founder and owner of Chicago-based hedge fund firm Citadel.

“It is an honor to support the outstanding organizations that make our community unique, vibrant and diverse,” Griffin said in a separate statement.

“Ken Griffin is a passionate and thoughtful collector,” said Paul Gray, director of Chicago- and New York-based Richard Gray Gallery, whose clients include Griffin. “Nearly every art work in his collection has been on loan to museums at one time or another because he believes in the museum’s vital role in communities.”

Record Richter

Griffin was the buyer of a 10-foot-tall Gerhard Richter abstract painting that fetched an artist record 30.4 million pounds ($46.4 million) at Sotheby’s in London on Feb. 10, according to a person familiar with the matter who asked not to be identified because the information is private. Sotheby’s and Citadel representatives and Gray declined to comment on the auction buyer’s identity.

Griffin has been on the MCA Board of Trustees since 2000. He has regularly supported the museum’s exhibitions, including “Jeff Koons,” “Take Your time: Olafur Eliasson,” and “David Bowie Is.” The Bowie retrospective, which closed Jan. 4, drew 193,000 to the museum during its 15-week run, making it the best-attended show in the MCA’s history.

Other gifts to the Vision Campaign include two additional $10 million donations: from Helen and Sam Zell, on behalf of the Zell Family Foundation to create the Zell Fund for Artistic Excellence; and from Stefan Edlis and Gael Neeson, whose gift funded the naming of the Edlis Neeson Theater in their honor.