In Miami, the Art World Returns to Sender


11/30/11

ABOVE: LENI AND ADAM SENDER WITH SARAH AIBEL. PHOTO COURTESY OF DEAN NEVILLE/BFANYC.COM


Adam Sender, the hedge fund maverick-turned-art collector, is in the spotlight during this year's Art Basel Miami Beach as he mounts an exhibition of works from his private collection. It will be staged in one of his Miami homes, which currently lies dormant on the real-estate market. "We weren't selling the house right away, so we thought it would be fun to test the waters with a pop-up exhibition," Sender told Interview. "It's something that my wife Lenore and I have thought about doing a few times, but the way we wanted to do it in the past would have cost an absolute fortune."

"Home Alone" was curated by the Sender Collection's curator, Sarah Aibel, who chose works by art-market heavy hitters such as Richard Prince, Cindy Sherman, Chris Ofili, and Rashid Johnson. "It sucks that so much of the work I've collected is hidden away," Sender says. "We live in Miami now, and we've made a lot of new friends down here. It's fun to invite them, and other people who want to see the pieces, to come see the collection."

The 70 works in the exhibition were culled from over 1,000 pieces in the collection, which is estimated to total over $100 million in value. "It's nice to re-live with some of them again," Sender explained, referring specifically to one of Keith Harring's "Tarps," of which the couple owns two. "They really bring back a rush of memories."

Sender has been acquiring works since the late 1990s, when he left Steve Cohen's SAC Capital Advisors LP to form his own hedge fund. With the same discerning eye he used to choose promising equities, he bought works that at the time were reasonably priced—for a financier—and have today increased manifold in value. "I think it's a very different landscape from when I first started collecting," he mused. "At the time, I could buy a great Richard Prince for $100,000. Now, such works aren't really affordable."

Despite recent financial troubles, which involve a suit brought against his hedge fund by Toronto-based firm Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd, Sender continues to actively buy new works. "We definitely collect emerging artists," Sender says. "That's where the excitement is. I know that I have a good eye, and I use it to buy what I know."

When asked which artists he has his eye on, Sender betrayed that he still uses a practiced caution when buying art. "I don't find artists that are still in school, or a year into their career. I wait until they are a couple of years in." Lately, he's bought the work of Frank Benson and Diana Al-Hadid.

If "Home Alone" proves successful, it doesn't seem unreasonable that the Sender Collection could find a home in a permanent private collector museum, like his Miami collector colleagues the de la Cruzes and the Rubells. For now, however, Sender is keeping things temporary. "We would rather keep on buying art, and doing pop-up exhibitions," he explains. "Right now, they're just kind of fun."

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