Hedge-Fund Manager Saiers Offers Banksy $100,000 for Sandy Help
Volatility hedge-fund manager Nelson Saiers wants to make a $100,000 trade with Banksy, the British graffiti artist.
Saiers, chief investment officer of Saiers Capital LLC, has offered the money to the Hurricane Sandy rebuilding effort if Banksy uses one of his wall murals to raise awareness for people still affected by the storm. Unsolicited works from Banksy, who keeps his identity secret to avoid prosecution for graffiti, are appearing on New York City streets as part of a show during October.
“There remain a number of victims who are still severely impacted by this disaster,” Saiers, who manages about $660 million at his New York-based firm, wrote on the website heybanksy.com, which he set up to establish contact with the artist. Saiers declined to comment for this story.
The timing of the show coincides with the anniversary of Hurricane Sandy, which slammed into New York and New Jersey in late October of last year. The storm killed at least 159 people and damaged or destroyed more than 650,000 homes in the U.S., according to a federal task force report on Aug. 19.
A canvas by Banksy, a Bristol, England-born artist, sold for a record $1.9 million at auction in February 2008. In that same year, he introduced an authentication service, Pest Control, intended to regulate the market for his paintings and street murals.
Saiers, who earned his doctorate in math from the University of Virginia in Charlottesville at 23, said his offer is conditional on Banksy performing within the law and with respect for personal property rights.
“We are happy to assist in the identification and provision of a canvas,” Saiers, 38, wrote on his website.
The New York works by Banksy documented on his website are mostly additions to existing graffiti on walls in Manhattan and Brooklyn, including one with the word “Occupy!” in which the artist had updated with “The Musical.”
Saiers’s firm uses derivatives including options to bet that volatility levels for stocks and other assets worldwide are too high or low in relation to each other. The HFRX RV Volatility Index, which tracks funds that bet on stock swings, was up 2.4 percent this year through the end of August. That compares with a 15 percent gain for the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index in the period.
The money manager was a managing director for proprietary derivatives trading at Deutsche Bank AG, Germany’s biggest lender, before joining Alphabet Management LLC in 2010. He took the role of chief investment officer earlier this year and the firm was renamed Saiers Capital. The volatility hedge fund returned 27 percent between July 2010 and December 2012, Saiers said at the time.
Wall Street and local artists have also joined efforts to facilitate the rebuilding. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie announced in July a $1 million donation from Jon Bon Jovi to the Hurricane Sandy relief fund in the rock star’s home state. Bruce Springsteen, another New Jersey native, Staten Island-born Christina Aguilera and Long Islander Billy Joel performed with Jovi in an NBC television benefit last year.
Millions of dollars in contributions and loans to small businesses came in the aftermath of Sandy’s destruction from institutions such as Jefferies Group Inc., the New York-based investment-banking firm, Citigroup Inc. (C), Morgan Stanley (MS), JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM), Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS) as well as the Robin Hood Foundation, the poverty-fighting charity supported largely by Wall Street donors.
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