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Steinhardt, Michael H.


STEINHARDT, MICHAEL H. (1940– ), U.S. financier. Steinhardt, who was born in Brooklyn, n.y., became interested in the stock market when his father gave him 200 shares of Penn Dixie Cement and Columbia Gas System stock as a bar mitzvah present. At 13 he began studying brokers' reports. At 16 he enrolled in college, graduating from the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Finance in three years. He began his Wall Street career as a research associate, staff writer, and securities analyst before starting his own company, Steinhardt Partners, where he made a fortune in the risky field of hedge-fund management. In 1995 Steinhardt dissolved four hedge funds managed by the Steinhardt Management Company. From 1967 to 1995, as the manager of nearly $5 billion, the average annual return of his investors was 31 percent, before fees. But in his final years he and his partners paid more than $70 million in fines to settle charges of collusion in a Treasury note-trading scandal. In the early years of the 21st century, his liquid assets of more than $300 million were managed by more than 30 other money managers spread among an array of investments.

A professed atheist, Steinhardt, who grew up in a Jewish household, is especially interested in finding a way to perpetuate what he calls the philosophy of Jewish culture for the next generation of American Jews without relying on theology. He spent millions of dollars financing Jewish day schools, Hillel activities at colleges, trips to Israel for young people, and a drop-in center for young adults in Manhattan. He also became involved with an assortment of higher education institutions. He joined the board of Brandeis University, was chairman of the board of Tel Aviv University, and gave $10 million to the School of Education at New York University, where he was a trustee. The gift, the largest in the school's history, was used to create an endowment to support faculty development, doctoral fellowships, and research. A portion was allocated to support fellowships in a newly established doctoral program in education and Jewish studies offered by the school in collaboration with the Skirball Department of Hebrew and Judaic Studies. The school was renamed the Steinhardt School of Education in 2001.

One of his passions was art. He collected in five areas: ancient art, Judaica, 20th-century works on paper, Peruvian feathered textiles, and Chinese art. A gallery of sixth-century Greek art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art was named after him and his wife, Judy. Horticulture and wildlife were also deep interests, flowing from his love of his estate in Bedford, New York, which he filled with 120 varieties of fruit trees and a large array of wildlife creatures.

[Stewart Kampel (2nd ed.)]

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