In an otherwise hard to locate analysis of Steven Cohen and the intersection between markets and art collecting, Gary Sernovitz has this very apt conclusion to his essay in N+1:
This is now the template for the career of a successful artist: a few incandescent years, a few decades, and then repetition, self-parody, irrelevance, death. But that’s what we admire about them. Their fight against their condition is our fight against our condition. They are trying to fix a vanishing edge in a material form. And that struggle against the mortality of the edge, which is the mortality of every minute, which is mortality, is affirming and heroic and generous.
And the collector of this art? He has $9 billion, which is something. It is certainly more than $8 billion. And he has proved an interesting point. There is no reason to believe that a person can make $9 billion from the short-term trading of stocks except for the inconvenient fact that he has. But the Art Collector’s victories over the edge—maybe the victories of edge—are, for him, just numbers on a balance sheet. They are liquid. And so to convert them into a solid, he buys art. And not just art, but modern and contemporary artists at their peak. Perhaps he wishes that he could eat the paintings to capture their power, like cannibals used to do to their enemies. But a Warhol would be pretty expensive sushi. So he regards what he has bought. Does he hope then that others will understand the transformation he sees in front of him, of his wealth into this art, of his edge into this immortality? Or does he see only what he has never done, and could never do?
Edge and the Collector (N+1)