“Our success is driven by top talent, a relentless focus on research, and an exceptional ability to monetize investment ideas.” That was said by the 89th richest person in the United States according to Forbes, Ken Griffin on valuewalk.com. His success story is very much unlike other stories. His is one that follows sheer focus and determination.
In 1987, while still at Harvard, Kenneth Griffin got a fax machine, a computer, and a telephone and started trading from his dorm room. From this meek and aspirational beginning, Griffin slowly rose and caught the attention of Frank Meyer, the hedge-fund pioneer and co-founder of Glenwood Partners based in Chicago. Griffin’s relationship and interaction with Frank led him to see the world differently, and he saw an opportunity lurking in the business community and he quickly got hold of it.
In 1990, Ken Griffin established Citadel. Unlike any other financial institution, Citadel is a diverse financial institution. The Citadel group involves Citadel, which is an industry-leading alternative asset manager; Citadel Securities, which is one of the stellar liquidity providers in Americas capital markets; and Citadel Technologies, which is a IT solutions provider in investment management technology. Today, Citadel has grown to employ more than 1,250 people worldwide.
Griffin is an avid supporter of community change and improvement. He is well known for supporting any educational causes that push for this agenda. He also sits on the board of directors of the Chicago Public Education Fund. He is also a proud supporter of his alma mater where he gained the necessary skills and techniques that lay the foundation for his business career. He donated $150 million in financial aid support towards the school. Mr. Griffin’s benevolences to ameliorate and enrich the lives of others have seen him kick in more than $250 million from his personal contributions as well as through the Citadel Foundation. In particular, most of these contributions have gone to the Art Institute and the University of Chicago’s Lurie Childrens Home.
Mr. Griffin loves art. As a matter of fact, he is one of the most active art vendees in the world. He has actually dedicated his time exclusively to art collection and patronage. In 1999, he paid a record price of $60 million for the Curtain, “Jug and Fruit Bowl” painting by world renowned painter Paul Cezanne. In October 2006, Dreamworks co-founder David Geffen sold Griffin his Jasper Johns painting “False Start” for $80 million.
Griffin also has a vested interest in the politics of the United States. Griffin prides himself in being a libertarian. He has made numerous political contributions and donations to political parties, candidates, and organizations that share his views of having a limited government. Organizations such as American Crossroads, the Republican Governors Association, and Restore Our Future have greatly benefited from his contributions and donations. In 2012, he plunked for Mitt Romney’s run for the presidency and also made contributions to Republicans Eric Cantor of Virginia and Senator Mark Kirk of Illinois. He also donated $2.5 million to the Republican candidate for Illinois governor Bruce Rauner.