Ken Griffin, a successful money manager

Kenneth Cordele Griffin is a hedge fund manager who was born in October of 1968 in Daytona Beach, Florida and grew up in Boca Raton, Florida, where he attended the Boca Raton Community High School.

While still at Harvard University, he started two investment funds in his dorm room, and between classes he would make transactions. He installed a special satellite link in his dorm room to obtain data from the market in real-time.

He got his first fund of $265,000 partly with his grandmother’s money, which allowed him to benefit from a market fall during the crisis of 1987.

In 1989, investor Frank Meyer, surprised by the success of Griffin and the return of his investments -which at the time were largely based upon convertible bonds- made a relatively small investment with Griffin, entrusting him with $1 million to invest.

Griffin exceeded Meyer’s expectations and, according to the New York Times, Meyer earned a 70% return with that investment.

When the news spread, investors became interested in backing Griffin.

Ken Griffin with computers_american businessman_patrick dwyer merrill lynch
Image courtesy of Insider Monkey at Flickr.com

Griffin founded Citadel LLC, an investment firm based in Chicago, considered one of the largest and most successful hedge funds in the world. He’s earned thousands of millions of dollars for as long as he’s been in the company.

Citadel was founded officially on November 1st 1990 with $4.2 million dollars, and the name “Citadel” was chosen to suggest the strength of the company in times of volatility.

With $13 billion in managed assets, Citadel is one of the largest funds in the world and it’s daily volumes are approximately 3% of the traded average per day in London, New York and Tokyo.

Citadel grew rapidly, and the yearly performance has been over 20% since 1998.

Griffin uses his own quantitative and numerical skills within Citadel. The company has attracted mathematicians,  physics and engineers to act as investment analysts, using advanced computer technology and expecting a high level of confidentiality. Griffin avoided press coverage in a similar way to that of other high risk fund managers such as billionaire Steven A. Cohen.

Recently, Griffin has adopted a profile in the media which has been much more prominent, he has also spoken about his purchases of art, his charitable contributions and political interests in an interview with the New York Times.

He made headlines by purchasing a couple of artworks for $500 million. Two paintings of abstract expressionism were enough to drive the market of art crazy. The billionaire acquired the “Interchange” painting (1955) by Willem de Kooning and “Number 17A” (1948) by Jackson Pollock. The former cost about $300 million and the latter cost $200 million. Until then, the de Kooning belonged to the David Geffen Foundation, and it became the most expensive contemporary artwork in history, as reported by CNBC and Bloomberg.

It seems that Griffin is very passionate about art, since he had previously purchased the painting “Abstraktes Bild” by German artist Gerhard Richter for $46 million, and he donated $40 million to the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

With an estimate of $13 billion -compared to an estimate of $20 billion previously- in managed assets, Citadel is still one of the world’s largest hedge funds.

In 1986, Griffin became interested in investing after reading Forbes Magazine. After over 20 years, Griffin has appeared in numerous occasions in the Forbes 400 magazine, since 2008, and his fortune is estimated in $3 billion dollars.

In 2011, his fortune -as estimated by Forbes- had fallen to $2.3 thousand million and he was placed in position 512 among the richest people in the world.

His first appearance in the Forbes 400 list was in 2003, with an estimated net value of $615 million, at just 34, he was the second youngest person on the list.

In September 2004, Fortune magazine listed Griffin as the eighth richest American under 40 in the category of those who had amassed their own fortune in the United States.

In 2006, Griffin was the fifth youngest of seven members of the Forbes 400 list under 40.

In July 2004, Griffin married Anne Dias in Versailles. She is the founder and managing partner of Aragon Global Management, another firm of investment funds based in Chicago.

In 2015, Griffin donated $100 million to Harvard University. That same year his wife filed for divorce at a courthouse in Illinois. Media reports stated that his ex-wife demanded $2,500 a month for office supplies, $450,000 to go on vacation in the Caribbean, and $300,000 a month to travel on a private jet. Other figures include $12 million dollars a year to “maintain the status quo” as well as $160,000 a month in hotel expenses.

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