Great Neck native and hedge fund manager Steve Cohen is nearing an agreement to purchase a majority stake in the New York Mets, according to a joint statement from team ownership and Cohen’s firm, Cohen Private Ventures.
Cohen, 63, is negotiating a deal with Sterling Partners—an investment firm headed led by Mets owners Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz—that would net him an 80 percent stake in the team. The price of the deal has yet to be announced, but Forbes Magazine recently placed the team’s value at roughly $2.3 billion. Per the conditions of the agreement, Wilpon, the current CEO of the Mets, and COO Jeff Wilpon would remain in their current positions as the primary shot-callers for the organization for the next five years, while Cohen’s interest in the team would be managed by his private firm.
Cohen’s net worth is estimated at $13 billion, which would make him the richest owner in Major League Baseball should the league’s owners approve the deal. Cohen has been a minority owner in the organization since 2012, and he currently owns an 8 percent stake in the team.
Cohen is currently the chairman and CEO of Point72 Asset Management, a hedge fund based in Stamford, CT, which manages nearly $15 billion worth of assets, including Cohen Private Ventures. Cohen’s previous hedge fund, SAC Capital Advisors, converted its investment operations to Point72 in 2014 after the firm pled guilty to federal charges of insider trading and paid $1.8 billion in fines. The case, handled by former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Preet Bharara, was loosely adapted to form the basis the Showtime series Billions. Cohen’s adapted character, Robert Axelrod, is played by Damian Lewis.
Point72 head of corporate communications Mark Herr told the Great Neck Record that Cohen is a lifelong Mets fan. Herr said his boss used to take the subway to Shea Stadium and sit in the upper deck to watch games as a high school student. His long record of philanthropy includes donations to Northwell Health through the Steve and Alexandra Cohen Foundation. Northwell’s Cohen Children’s Medical Center is named in honor of him and his wife.
Cohen has acquired a reputation in the financial world for his lavish spending habits. Cohen’s art collection is valued at more than $1 billion, and includes the most expensive sculpture ever sold. In 2013, Allen Salkin’s book From Scratch: The Inside History of the Food Network revealed that Cohen paid celebrity chef Guy Fieri $100,000 to reenact an episode of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives with him in Connecticut.
The Wilpon family, headed by Fred, has held a majority stake in the Mets since 2002. Fred Wilpon invested around $500 million with Bernie Madoff, and the collapse of his Ponzi scheme in 2008 left the family with significant debt and later an obligation to pay a total of $45 million to other victims of the investment scandal.