Kenneth Cordele Griffin
Early life and Career
Born in 1968, Kenneth Cordele Griffin was somewhat of a math prodigy and excelled in high school. He graduated from Harvard University in 1989 with a degree in economics. During his first year at Harvard he started investing after being inspired by an article in Forbes magazine. He established a hedge fund in his second year of college with investments from his family and friends totaling $265 000. He formed a second fund in 1987 and between both had assets under management of around $1 million.
After graduation, Griffin was approached by founder of Glenwood Capital LLC, Frank C. Meyer who gave Griffin $1 million to invest on his behalf netting returns of around 70%.
Griffin founded Citadel in 1990 with starting assets under management of around $4.6 million. In 1998, the company had over $1 billion in investment capital and over 100 employees. Today Citadel manages over $28 billion in assets. He is also the owner of Citadel Securities, a Wall Street market maker. Griffin is outspoken on the issue of regulations in the financial services industry and has testified at several government hearing on the need for regulations and regulatory guidelines to keep pace with changes in the markets, specifically surrounding fairness in American equity markets. He is a member of the G100, a group of 100 CEOs that meet to discuss issues and challenges in the global economy. Griffin is politically active and has provided financial backing to candidates that support a more streamlined and limited government. He endorsed Senator Marco Rubio for the 2016 republican presidential nomination. In 2015, he donated $5.8 million to Freedom Partners Action Fund, Right to Rise USA, Future45 and Conservative Solutions PAC.
Griffin serves on the board of several non-profit organizations in Chicago including the Art Institute of Chicago, the Museum of Contemporary Art, and the Whitney Museum of American Art.
Philanthropy and Sponsorship
Founder of the Kenneth C. Griffin Charitable Fund, Griffin is a prodigious donor to a number of causes and organizations in his personal capacity. In 2006 together with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Griffin funded the opening of a new charter school in Chicago. In 2007, griffin donated $19 million to the Art Institute of Chicago, and in 2014, donated $150 million for Harvard University, earmarked for needs-based undergraduate financial aid. The foundation announced a $125 million donation to the Department of Economics at the University of Chicago.
Kenneth Griffin is not only an avid art collector but one of the most active in the world. His purchases have always made headlines in the press. He paid $60 million for ‘Curtain, Jug and Fruit Bowl’ by Paul Cezanne in 1999, and $80 million for ‘False Start’ by Jasper Johns in 2006. In 2016, he purchased Willem de Kooning’s ‘Interchange’ for $300 million and Jackson Pollack’s ‘Number 17A’ for $200 million.