Last week, John Coffee, a securities law professor at Columbia University, told Bloomberg: "Everyone in the hedge-fund industry is now trembling over the federal government's wide-ranging insider-trading investigation." Among other hedge funds, Steve Cohen's $12 billion SAC Capital was subpoenaed, so you'd think Cohen might be trembling extra hard. But when the government hands you a subpoena, make lemonade:
"At Wednesday's private opening of Art Basel Miami Beach, financier Steve Cohen ... in jovial spirits ... was one of scores of New York collectors who snapped up works in the fair's initial hours - or, in his case, minutes. Within five minutes of the 11 a.m. opening, Mr. Cohen spent about $300,000 on Adel Abdessemed's 'Mappemonde,' a large-scale map of the world made from tin cans collected off the streets of Dakar. Within the next hour, he plunked down $180,000 for Tim Hawkinson's 'Bike,' a work of collaged inkjet prints, from Blum & Poe."
In his defense, if we were drunk enough, we wouldn't be able to resist the large-scale map of the world made from tin cans collected off the streets of Dakar, either. But the party kept going:
"By the time he got to the booth for Gagosian Gallery, where he inquired about the price of Takashi Murakami's 'Yo Hakuin,' Mr. Cohen couldn't help joking about his habits. 'Let me ask you a question,' he said to a reporter, turning around. 'Do I have a bull's-eye on my back?'"
Wait, was he just casually joking about possibly being targeted by the federal government as part of an allegedly epic insider-trading bust? No, actually: "He didn't [have a bull's-eye on his back], of course, but he and other collectors might have been forgiven for suspecting they were being eyed hungrily by dealers eager to take advantage of the recently energized marketplace for contemporary art." Yeah, that's the target on his back he should be worried about.