Hedge fund manager Steve Cohen has signed an agreement to purchase the New York Mets from longtime owners Fred and Jeff Wilpon for a reported $2.4 billion after outbidding local power couple, Jennifer Lopez and Alex Rodriguez.
MLB Network’s Jon Heyman was the first to report the sale, which, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post, is a record for a North American sports franchise.
‘I am excited to have reached an agreement with the Wilpon and Katz families to purchase the New York Mets,’ Cohen, 64, said in a team statement after reaching an agreement with the team’s respective majority and minority owners.
The sale is subject to the approval of Major League Baseball franchise owners.
Hedge fund manager Steve Cohen has signed an agreement to purchase the New York Mets from longtime owners Fred and Jeff Wilpon for a reported $2.4 billion
The New York Mets are currently at 21-26 in this pandemic-shortened season
Rodriguez and Lopez added several high-profile investors to their group’s reported $2 billion offer, but were unable to eclipse the bid put forth by Cohen
Cohen had long been considered the favorite to buy the team, given his immense wealth, believed to be over $14 billion, according to Forbes.
He offered $2.6 billion in late 2019, according to the New York Post. However that deal fell apart amid reported disagreements over the five-year transfer of the club to Cohen and the future role of Jeff Wilpon, the team’s COO and the son of Fred.
During the stalemate, Rodriguez and Lopez quickly added several high-profile investors to their group’s $2 billion offer, including retired NFL legends Brian Urlacher, Joe Thomas, DeMarco Murray, and two-time NBA All-Star Bradley Beal, according to ESPN.
Cohen eventually returned to the negotiating table to eclipse the bid put forth by Rodriguez and Lopez, which reportedly included $300 million in personal funds.
The Mets’ Citi Field still belongs to New York City and was not included in the agreement
The Mets are worth $2.4 billion, according to Forbes, which ranks them sixth in the Majors
Cohen’s personal history is not without controversy.
He controlled SAC Capital Advisors, which in 2013 pleaded guilty to criminal fraud charges. SAC agreed to pay a $900 million fine and forfeit another $900 million to the federal government, though $616 million that SAC companies had already agreed to pay to settle parallel actions by the Securities and Exchange Commission was to be deducted from the $1.8 billion.
Cohen first bought into the Mets in 2012 when the team sought $20 million minority investment stakes following the collapse of Bernard Madoff’s Ponzi scheme, which cost the Wilpons and their companies large amounts.
Ultimately Cohen, the CEO and president of Point72 Asset Management, received 8 percent of the team for $40 million.
Cohen is also one of the world’s most prominent art collectors, having once spent $141.3 million on Alberto Giacometti’s ‘Pointing Man’ sculpture
Cohen is believed to be the basis for actor Damian Lewis’s character on the Showtime series, ‘Billions,’ which focuses on a billionaire’s battles with a federal prosecutor for the Southern District of New York.
He’s also one of the world’s most prominent art collectors, having once spent $141.3 million on Alberto Giacometti’s ‘Pointing Man’ sculpture.
Cohen will sit atop the team’s sixth ownership group.
Doubleday & Co., a publisher, bought the Mets in 1980 from the family of founding owner Joan Payson for $21.1 million, with the company owning 95 percent of the team and Wilpon controlling 5 percent.
When Doubleday & Co. was sold to the media company Bertelsmann AG in 1986, the publisher sold its shares of the team for $80.75 million to Wilpon and Nelson Doubleday, who became 50-50 owners.
Wilpon led a buyout of Doubleday’s shares in August 2002 and became chairman and sole controlling owner. Saul Katz, the owner’s brother-in-law and partner in the real estate firm Sterling Equities Inc., became team president and Jeff Wilpon, Fred’s son became COO at the time.
The Wilpons have been criticized heavily in recent years, with fans often taking aim at their former financial relationship with Madoff, as well as their reluctance to buy highly priced free agents.
Now, Mets fans can take comfort in knowing that their owner is the richest in baseball.