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Chief of $1 billion Juilliard endowment is leaving

Karina Canellakis leading the Juilliard Orchestra at Alice Tully Hall on Thursday night, May 22, 2014.
Hiroyuki Ito | Getty Images
Karina Canellakis leading the Juilliard Orchestra at Alice Tully Hall on Thursday night, May 22, 2014.

David Marcus, who led the Juilliard School's endowment out of financial crisis losses with the help of hedge fund pioneer Bruce Kovner, is set to depart.

Marcus will leave the elite music, dance and drama school at the end of September, according to two people familiar with the situation. The move has not been publicly announced and no successor has been named to be chief investment officer for the Juilliard endowment. Marcus' next position is unclear. He and a spokesman for Juilliard did not respond to requests for comment.

The move is notable because of the New York City-based school's relatively large financial position—more than $1 billion in total assets despite only about 850 total students—and Marcus' sophistication as an investor. Juillard's board chairman is Caxton Associates founder Kovner, and its directors include numerous Wall Street executives.

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Juilliard's investment committee includes Chris Kojima, head of Goldman Sachs Asset Management's alternative investments and manager selection group; Kent Clark, the Goldman unit's CIO for hedge fund strategies; Jim Marcus, a former Goldman partner; Sanford Ehrenkranz, co-founder of wealth management firm Ehrenkranz Partners; Keith Gollust, president of Gollust Management; and Kenneth Davidson, an advisor to hedge fund Balestra Capital, according to public biographies.

Kovner, also an investment committee member, became board chair in 2001 and is a major donor to the school with his wife, Suzie. Kovner ran hedge fund Caxton from 1983 to 2011 but remains a private investor through his family office, CAM Capital. Kovner declined to comment about Marcus.

Marcus arrived at Juilliard in May 2008, just before the worst of the financial crisis. Like many other endowments and institutions, its assets were hit hard. The endowment managed $766 million on Jan. 1, 2008, but stood at $613 million on Jan. 1, 2009, according to public filings. The school's president, Joseph Polisi, praised the investment committee in an open letter in early 2009 but noted the losses and the ramifications on the school.

"Although the Juilliard board's investment committee has done a brilliant job of positioning our endowment so that it has performed better than the stock market overall, the school will have to make a downward budget adjustment in upcoming years, due to the precipitous drop in the value of the market," Polisi wrote. The exact investment returns were not disclosed.

Since then, Marcus has helped steer the value of the endowment back past its pre-crisis level. It controls about $1 billion today, according to a person familiar with the situation. Its investments include hundreds of millions of dollars in hedge, private equity and other nonpublic funds, according to public records. The specific investment managers used are private.

Juilliard Endowment Assets

Date
Endowment Assets ($M)
1/1/2008 766
1/1/2009 613
1/1/2010 658
1/1/2011 804
1/1/2012 778
12/31/2012 872
9/1/2014 1000*
*Estimate from CNBC.com source
Source: Public 990 filings

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Marcus earned $562,446 in total 2012 compensation, according to a public disclosure.

"Juilliard has a stellar reputation with a first-rate board, but the pay is a little on the low side. Nonetheless it should still be an attractive position and they should have no trouble filling it," said Charles Skorina, an executive recruiter who specializes in institutional investment officers at Charles Skorina & Co. He is not involved in the situation.

Before Juilliard, Marcus was a managing director at Dartmouth College's endowment investment office from 1999 to 2008. He was in charge of its private equity and hedge fund portfolios, according to a public biography.

—By CNBC's Lawrence Delevingne