Stevie Cohen: the pop star edition
Hard to believe, there was a time when Steven A. Cohen was not all that well-known on Wall Street outside of the hedge fund industry. Some even used to confuse the then-paunchy hedge fund trader with a popular magician with the same name.
But it’s true. In fact, a decade ago, BusinessWeek (pre-Bloomberg takeover) did a cover story about Cohen and his then-$4 billion SAC Capital Advisors, calling the once super secretive investor, “The most powerful trader on Wall Street you’ve never heard of.”
Today, however, it’s almost a rarity when a major business publication or website (that’s you Dealbreaker) doesn’t have a story about Cohen and his currently $15 billion hedge fund (subject to change depending on how much in outside investor money gets returned at the end of this month). Whether it be the long-running inside trading investigation, his failed attempt to buy the Los Angeles Dodgers, his impressive growing art collection or his sizeable charitable donations, Cohen and his firm are always making news. A few years back, we even did a story on SAC Capital’s resident golf pro and how he would line up golf outings for SAC traders with corporate executives.
But Cohen, for better or worse, has moved beyond the business pages to the popular press. And while he’s not yet fodder for People magazine or TMZ, consider just how mainstream Cohen and his embattled hedge fund empire have gone.
Last month, Vanity Fair did a big piece likening the prosecutorial hunt of Steve Cohen to Captain Ahab and the hunt for Moby Dick. It was a nice read with a great graphic illustration, in which Cohen is the great whale and Manhattan US Attorney Preet Bharara, with spear in hand, plays the part of Ahab. It’s a great image, but one we’ve seen before. For Vanity Fair, this the second time in three years that Cohen has gotten star treatment. In that earlier story, Cohen tried to show a more warm and cuddly side. And to help further that image, Cohen and his wife Alexandra Cohen sat for a photo shoot with Annie Leibovitz, whose famous for her photo portraits of the rich and famous.
The New York Times has put stories on Cohen and SAC Capital on its front page at least a half-dozen times over the past year as well.
There’s even a twitter stream dedicated to Cohen with the handle, @NotStevieCohen, with the bio description “If I go down, the global economy is coming with me.”
And it would appear Cohen’s stardom is only going to grow with news confirmed by Unstructured Finance that the PBS investigative documentary show Frontline is busily working on a program that will zero in on the federal government’s crackdown on insider trading and particularly the nearly seven-year investigationof Cohen’s firm.
The Frontline report is being produced by Nick Verbitsky, who recently completed a documentary about the collapse of Bear Stearns called Confidence Game, which Verbitsky said he hopes to find a distributor for soon. Verbitsky said he has begun interviewing people for the Frontline report on Cohen but does not yet know when it will air. He said the Frontline team is currently talking about broadcast date for the segment.
As to why Frontline is targeting Cohen, Verbitsky says, insider trading by hedge funds has become “very topical” with the government crackdown and successful prosecutorial record. He adds, “Cohen is becoming more of pop figure.”
It’s still not clear how this will all shake out with Cohen and SAC Capital: as we pointed out a few days ago this investigation could grind on for years to come.
But one hopes that in doing his Frontline piece, Verbitsky skeds some air time for the ultimate chronicler of all things Cohen and SAC Capital—Dealbreaker’s prolific blogger Bess Levin.