[Marxism] Bruce Kovner: capitalist pig of the month

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Sun Jun 15 12:08:30 MDT 2008

Around 8 years ago I was puzzled to see scaffolding wrap the entire 
edifice of the International Center for Photography (ICP) on Fifth 
Avenue and 94th Street, about a five minute walk from my apartment. 
Was the museum, one of my favorite, being refurbished behind the 
metal cocoon? Nearly every museum in my neighborhood on the Upper 
East Side, where I am blessed to live at least for the time being, 
goes through expansion or remodeling from time to time.

I soon learned that the ICP had moved to midtown, something I found 
inexplicable. When a museum moves out of its long-time headquarters, 
something seemed deeply wrong, especially when I learned that some 
unnamed party had bought the building in order to turn it into his 
private mansion–an act I found barbarian.

In this week's Nation Magazine, in a very good article on the "wealth 
gap" in New York by Gabriel Thompson, I finally learned the identity 
of the barbarian who purchased the ICP building. It was Bruce Kovner, 
a Jewish-American hedge fund manager who earned $715 million two 
years ago. Kovner is also one of the major funders of rightwing think 
tanks and journals in the U.S.A., including the American Enterprise 
Institute (AEI), the Manhattan Institute and the New York Sun. With 
such lavish sums at his disposal, Kovner decided to purchase yet another home:

 >>The "upside" of income inequality is best considered from above: 
for example, with a view from the fifth floor of Kovner's mansion 
overlooking Central Park, which he purchased in 1999 from the 
International Center of Photography for $17.5 million. With the 
infusion of another $10 million in renovations, the structure–which 
had contained two floors of gallery space, the museum school and 
offices–was transformed into his private fortress. In the basement is 
a rare-book vault, where Kovner presumably keeps copies of an edition 
of the King James Bible that he financed, with a price tag in excess 
of $20,000 per volume. Other vantage points from which to assess the 
benefits of growing income inequality in a clear-eyed fashion might 
include Kovner's 200-acre estate in Millbrook, New York, or his 
twelve acres of linked oceanfront properties in Carpinteria, 
California, which he purchased last year for $70 million in what the 
Wall Street Journal called "among the largest U.S. residential 
real-estate deals."<<

According to a profile on Kovner that appeared in New York Magazine 
(more below), the mansion features a two-story bedroom, a media room, 
a basement library to house his collection of rare European 
illustrated books, eighteen bathrooms, and one bidet. Since Kovner is 
supposed to be single, one wonders why he would feel the need for 18 
johns. I guess he is a very shitty person.


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