Power Players

This hedge fund billionaire owns the most expensive home ever sold in America — here's how he spends his fortune

Ken Griffin, founder and chief executive officer, Citadel
David A. Grogan | CNBC

Ken Griffin might not be the wealthiest person in the world, but that hasn't stopped him from outspending his fellow billionaires on splashy real estate deals. His latest buy is reportedly in contract — fashion icon Calvin Klein's seven-acre oceanfront Hamptons estate, which could be worth up to $100 million.

The 51-year-old billionaire is the founder and CEO of Citadel — a hedge fund that manages nearly $30 billion worth of assets — and he has a net worth of roughly $12 billion, according to research firm Wealth-X. 

That amount puts Griffin well behind people like Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates — the world's two richest people, respectively, with estimated net worths well over $100 billion apiece.

But Griffin still outranks those titans of wealth in at least one category: He owns the most expensive home ever sold in the U.S., a penthouse overlooking Central Park in New York City that Griffin bought in 2019 for $238 million.

That record-setting purchase topped the previous record for a home sold in the U.S., which had been the $147 million paid by fellow hedge fund manager Barry Rosenstein in 2014 for an 18-acre estate in East Hampton, New York. Griffin's luxurious penthouse also outpaces the recent splashy real estate deal from the world's richest person, Bezos, who reportedly paid $165 million for a Los Angeles mansion in February.

Ken Griffin outranks world's richest person Jeff Bezos in at least one category: He owns the most expensive home ever sold in America

And that's far from Griffin's only major real estate purchase. In recent years, the billionaire has reportedly spent more than $750 million on real estate in Chicago, New York, Miami, Palm Beach, Florida and London, U.K. Griffin certainly has the funds to keep up his spending spree, as Bloomberg estimates that the hedge fund manager took home about $1.5 billion in income from his role at Citadel in 2019.

Wealth-X, a global high net worth intelligence and data company, gave CNBC Make It a breakdown of the value of Griffin's assets as of February 2020.

Here are some of the ways Griffin spends his money.

Real estate

It's no secret that Griffin has expensive taste when it comes to real estate. In fact, Griffin has a long track record of record-breaking home purchases.

His New York City penthouse (which first went into contract in 2015) includes an estimated 24,000 square feet and covers four full floors of the 79-story tower at 220 Central Park South. What's more, Griffin reportedly bought the penthouse unfinished, which meant he'd likely spend even more money to design the home to his tastes. And, he reportedly coughed up another nearly $4 million for two smaller units in the same building in October. 

The 220 Central Park South building, center, stands in New York, on Jan. 23, 2019. Just days after buying one of the most expensive residential properties in London, Citadel founder Ken Griffin set a U.S. record with the $238 million penthouse at 220 Central Park South.
Jeenah Moon | Bloomberg | Getty Images

The same week that Griffin's New York penthouse deal was finalized in January 2019, CNBC also reported that he was paying $122 million for a 16,000-square-foot mansion located near Buckingham Palace in the heart of London. The home, which is the most expensive home sold in London since 2008, is a 19th Century townhouse that previously housed French statesman Charles de Gaulle during World War II. The mansion features an indoor swimming pool and spa, staff quarters and private gardens.

3 Carlton Gardens in London.
Source: Google Earth

Griffin is also a record-holder in his hometown of Chicago, where the billionaire paid $58.5 million for the top four floors of a condo building in 2018 (the largest home sale ever in that city). 

Griffin also bought the most expensive property ever sold in Miami in 2015 — a pair of penthouses that cost $60 million combined — and he's spent well over $200 million buying up more than 20 acres of oceanfront property in Florida's Palm Beach (also a state record) where he's building the largest estate in an area that also includes President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate.

Additionally, Griffin has bought multimillion-dollar homes in Aspen, Colorado and Hawaii in recent years.

Billionaire Ken Griffin buys the most expensive US home ever sold
Billionaire Ken Griffin buys the most expensive US home ever sold

Private jets

According to Wealth-X, Griffin's assets also include two private jets. Griffin owns a 2001 Bombardier Global Express private jet that's worth $9.5 million, as well as a $50 million 2012 Bombardier Global 6000 model jet, Wealth-X tells CNBC Make It. 

Art collection

Aside from splashy real estate purchases, Griffin has also made headlines for shelling out millions of dollars to curate his personal collection of classic artwork. In 2015, Griffin reportedly paid $300 million to Hollywood producer David Geffen for Willem de Kooning's 1955 painting "Interchange," while paying another $200 million in a separate deal to acquire Jackson Pollock's 1948 work "Number 17A."

Griffin's extensive art collection also includes a $60 million Paul Cezanne painting ("Curtain, Jug and Fruit Bowl") and an $80 million painting by Jasper Johns ("False Start").

The artist Paul Cezanne's "Curtain, Jug and Fruit," painted in 1894. Billionaire Ken Griffin bought the painting in 1999 for $60 million.
Source: WikiArt


Griffin is also known for his philanthropy, some of which is focused on supporting the arts. He donated $40 million to New York City's Museum of Modern Art in 2015. In Chicago, Griffin has donated $10 million to that city's Museum of Contemporary Art and another $125 million to the Museum of Science and Industry.

He's also made large donations to academic institutions, including a then-record $150 million gift to the financial aid program at his alma mater, Harvard, in 2014. And, in 2017, Griffin gave $125 million to the University Chicago's economics department (which in turn, is now named for him).

(Meanwhile, Griffin's hedge fund recently pitched in to help contain the coronavirus, aka COVID-19. In early February, Citadel sent $7.5 million to organizations in China working to help victims and contain the deadly virus, including Hubei Xinhua Hospital in the Chinese city of Wuhan as well as the Hubei Charity Federation and China Charity Federation.)

All the rest

Wealth-X estimates that Griffin's net worth includes about $460 million from his ownership stake in Citadel, the hedge fund he founded in 1990, just a year after he graduated from Harvard with a degree in economics. That number accounts for about 3.8% of Griffin's overall net worth, according to Wealth-X.

However, by far the largest piece of Griffin's fortune is the $11.2 billion that falls under the category of "cash and others," according to Wealth-X. That amount accounts for 93.3% of Griffin's wealth. It includes the money Griffin has earned from past salaries and bonuses as the CEO of Citadel, as well as his own personal investments through Citadel, which as of the end of December held large stakes in companies such Apple, General Electric and Snapchat, according to regulatory filings.

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