Efficiency in Wasting Money

by Mr Juggles

Mr. Cohen’s purchase,”Police Gazette,” is described in the Times as one of the artist’s “more abstract canvases, primarily yellow, red and green.” Others might say it looks a bit like an exploded taxi cab.

Whatever it resembles, it is a lot less fearsome than Damien Hirst’s “The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living,” for which Mr. Cohen paid $8 million two years ago. That work consists of a 14-foot shark suspended in a glass tank. The shark has since begun to rot and is now being painstakingly replaced with another, slightly smaller one — a process that apparently requires 224 gallons of formaldehyde, among other things.

An $8mm shark in formaldehyde that rots and must be replaced every two years isn’t art, it’s an incredibly inefficient way to spend money that could have been spent on bottle service. Alterntatively, it’s an incredibly efficient way to WASTE money. Previously, someone who — like Mr. Cohen — had money to burn might have bought an expensive shark tank with live sharks. But Mr. Cohen raises the bar on the efficiency of waste by spending 80x as much for a shark tank with a rotting shark corpse. The sheer brilliance of this frivolousness is hard to comprehend.

Over the last few years, Mr. Cohen’s annual earnings have varied between $428mm (2001) and ~$1bn (2005) adding up to a fortune now estimated at $5bn. Such huge, rapid gains in wealth have clearly caused him to increase his investment in the research and development of new, efficient ways to waste large sums of money.

Rotting shark corpses are an early sign that this research has paid off. Note the brilliant use of a unique art artifact, making other stupillionaires hesistant to directly copy his maneuver.

Recommendation: We see a long term rise in top-tier spenders’ ability to fritter away stupefying amounts of money. Go long cyrogenically-frozen elephants, a likely next target for money-wasting.

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  1. The Corner
    October 19th, 2006 | 2:57 pm

    This is upsetting. I’m just glad Cohen’s such a pr1ck that he’d rather spend $8 million on a dead shark suspended in formaldehyde than fund what could potentially be hundreds of college educations for those who can’t afford it

  2. October 19th, 2006 | 3:26 pm

    I think he is being altruitic by avoiding spending his $8mm on precisely that. If he were to give away scholarships to “those who can’t afford it”, it would dillute the value of college educations to everyone else. This would disadvantage me, because I happen to be a holder of a complete college education.

    Also consider that with the proliferation of scholarships and what have you, people who can qualify for college can always go to college one way or another (student loans are an incredible deal so people who besmirch them are mindboggling spoiled).

    The money would be much better spent funding the replication of empirically proven successful innercity education programs. Or giving it to Grameen. But that would really hurt his efficieny of waste, so we cannot support it.

  3. jc
    October 19th, 2006 | 3:37 pm

    Mr. Juggs–why not donate to the “Save these Hot Boobs from Cancer campaign”?

  4. The Corner
    October 19th, 2006 | 3:50 pm

    You get my point Juggles, Cohen’s oppulence is disturbing as there are more important things that one should endow than one’s art collection, which in this case has the potential to be really really bad. Seriously, Picasso?

  5. The Corner
    October 19th, 2006 | 3:51 pm

    By the way, mad props on “cryongenically frozen elphants” Great niche sector there and congrats on spotting it out.

  6. October 19th, 2006 | 4:23 pm

    “You get my point Juggles, Cohen’s oppulence is disturbing as there are more important things that one should endow than one’s art collection, which in this case has the potential to be really really bad. Seriously, Picasso? ”

    Assume that wasting money efficiently is the most important thing. By that measure, Steve Cohen is clearly a cut above his competitors.

    (Note he does buy Picasso art inefficiently too, more on that another time)

  7. Coop
    October 19th, 2006 | 5:07 pm

    I am genuinely curious: Was the shark art supposed to last for a long time, or was it supposed to rot, as if it were a slow motion imitation of a live shark being eaten whole and digested by a larger, invisible shark? If the later were true, I would really consider that great art…

  8. October 19th, 2006 | 5:26 pm

    I’m not sure, it’s unclear, but I’m sure it will be revisionistically interpreted to cast Hirst in the best possible light.

    Cohen just emailed us a bid of $50mm for the invisible shark eating ghost shark. “I gotta collect them all.”

  9. James D
    October 19th, 2006 | 9:54 pm

    This is fukin’ A+ hillarious! Spending money efficiently is easy. We call it POVERTY…. To blow 8m on a rotting shark? I can’t even come up with shit like that. Hail to the King!!!

  10. Coop
    October 19th, 2006 | 10:15 pm

    Sorry Mr. Juggles, you are going to have to turn down Cohen’s offer- I hold the intelectual property rights to all invisible predatory ghost animal displays. I recieved upwards of $200mm for the invisible teradactylasourous that currently gaurds Warren Buffett’s hilltop mansion.

  11. John Haskell
    October 20th, 2006 | 9:30 am

    Unfortunately Mr Cohen’s mind boggling efficiency in wasting money has now been completely overshadowed by Mr Steve Wynn (Las Vegas NV, $5 bln). Mr Wynn recently stuck his elbow through his Picasso painting, which he had recently agreed to sell to (natch) Steve Cohen for $140 million.

  12. October 20th, 2006 | 1:00 pm

    Wynn acquired that picture for $40mm in 2001, yet in 2006 Cohen was willing to pay $140mm. The negotiations probably went something like this.

    Wynn: “So I’m looking to sell it for about $73mm…”
    Cohen interjecting: “What if I offer you $140mm, would that be something you’d be interested in?”
    Wynn: “Sold. You are a gentlemen and the best there is at what you do.

  13. jc
    October 20th, 2006 | 1:09 pm

    That’s probably accurate, except that Cohen had his SAC traders spread an inefficiency model before arriving at that price.

  14. Mr Disco
    October 25th, 2006 | 1:25 am

    It’s all about scale:

    Mary Boies ordered a six-litre bottle of Bordeaux, and when it was empty she had everyone sign the label, to commemorate the calamitous afternoon. Wynn signed it “Mary, it’s all about scale — Steve.”