Ken Griffin is an American entrepreneur and the CEO of Citadel, a hedge fund with hundreds of billions in assets under management. As of 2024, Ken Griffin’s net worth exceeds $43.6 billion.

Through his firm and privately, Ken Griffin has made countless smart – and sometimes extravagant – investments, such as building the most expensive home on the planet, which is currently under construction. As the chief executive officer of a multinational hedge fund and the owner of a market maker, Griffin has billions to spend – and constantly contributes millions to philanthropic causes and political candidates.

In this article, we’ll tell you the story of how Ken Griffin built his burgeoning fortune.

Ken Griffin’s Net Worth Breakdown:

Most of Ken Griffin’s net worth comes from his stakes in Citadel LLC and the Citadel Securities global market-making business. Along with a hefty salary, he has plenty of investments, including a massive collection of real estate properties and art. While we can’t possibly pinpoint every source of his wealth, we were able to create a holistic overview of his major investments and sources of income that contribute to his estimated net worth.

Asset or Income Source Contribution to Net Worth
Home Shopping Network investment aged 17 $5,000
Citadel Securities stake $17.6 billion as of 2022
Citadel earnings $15+ billion
Personal assets in Citadel fund $9+ billion
Real estate $1.75+ billion
Art collection $1+ billion
Private jets $59.5 million
Total Net Worth $43.6 billion
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Ken Griffin Net Worth: The Early Life of a Money Master

Kenneth Cordele Griffin was born on October 15, 1968, in Daytona Beach, Florida. His father was a building supplies executive and a project manager at General Electric.

For most of his childhood, Griffin lived in Boca Raton, Florida, but the family also spent some time in Wisconsin and Texas. He completed his middle school education at Boca Raton Community High School, where he was selected as the president of the school’s math club.

When he was in high school, Ken Griffin ran EDCOM, a discount mail-order education software firm out of his bedroom. He often lied about his age when talking to suppliers and buyers and at one point in his adulthood shared:

Do you think anyone would trust their product line to a 17-year-old kid?

Griffin even made the local headlines at 17 when South Florida’s Sun Sentinel lauded him and 3 other high school students for their work ethic on the computer programming team.

His early interest in business resulted in different business ventures. For starters, he developed four educational programs with assistance from one of his guidance counselors, two of which were approved for use in schools and won the National Education Association seal of approval.

Before starting his university education, Griffin read a Forbes piece on the Home Shopping Network, which inspired him to buy options on the company, a move that earned him $5,000 in profit.

Ken Griffin graduated from Harvard University in 1989 and relocated to Chicago to work for Frank Meyer, the Glenwood Capital founder.

ken griffin graduation
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Ken Griffin Net Worth: Dorm Room Trader to Billionaire

Griffin is one of the lucky people in the world who found their life passion and career path at an early age. He began trading while still in his Harvard dorm room. Let’s dive into the story of how he became the founder of a major hedge fund and a multibillionaire.

Early Career from His Harvard Dorm Room

After graduating from high school, Ken Griffin enrolled in Harvard University as an economics major. By October 1987, he founded his first hedge fund called G&S Capital with the backing of his family members, as well as Saul Golkin and Rush Simonson.

His idea to use a rudimentary model to price bonds impressed Saul Golkin, a retiree who accidentally walked into an office where Griffin shared his plan with a broker friend working at the First National Bank of Palm Beach. Twenty minutes later, Golkin said: “I’m in for 50”, investing $50,000 into Griffin’s first business.

Thanks to several investors including his mother and grandmother, Griffin raised $265,000 for a limited partnership called Convertible Hedge Fund #1.

Convertible Hedge Fund #1

Griffin’s early days as a hedge fund manager in his dorm room were marred with all kinds of restrictions and difficulties. His building didn’t have a satellite dish (and the school wouldn’t let him install one), which was the only way to get stock quotes to his dorm room in a timely manner.

]Also, university policies were against his progress in the field – they stipulated that students couldn’t operate a business on campus.

To beat the rules, Griffin hosted a lobbying campaign, so his hedge fund was classified as an off-campus activity, and Harvard allowed him to install his satellite dish on the dorm building.

Impressively, Griffin’s first fund launched in 1987 just in time to profit from short positions (bets that the underlying asset is going to lose value) on Black Monday. When the Dow Jones plummeted by 22.6%, a vast majority of people in the economy lost money but not Griffin. He actually made out with a significant profit. This was the time when even some of the best hedge fund managers like Michael Steinhardt suffered enormous losses, but thanks to his skill and talent, Griffin was leaning very short in his portfolio, so it wasn’t hard for him to raise additional money for a new fund.

Convertible Hedge Fund #2

Since he made money during a major and unexpected crash, investors were encouraged to trust Griffin’s skills, so he easily raised $750,000 for another fund.

At this point, Ken Griffin was ready to expand his reach and introduced himself to Wall Street stock loan departments where convertible traders borrow stock for shorting. Even though he was a student trader, brokers gave him a shot, including Frank Meyer.

He wasn’t ivory tower. He took the fact that he was small and made it an advantage.

Meyer would later go on to say.

“What’s more impressive about this period is that Griffin was still at university. He ran a business and went to school at the same time – and even graduated early.”

Career After College

After his graduation, Griffin considered working for the Palm Beach III fund, but he gave up on the idea to enjoy more independence. This is when he met Meyer, the hedge fund pioneer who ran Glenwood Investment Corp.

In September 1990, Griffin started trading a convertible arbitrage strategy as a separate account for Meyer’s company. Meyer reportedly gave him $1 million in initial capital to use his strategy.

A year later, Meyer was impressed with the young trader, especially since he brought him a 70% return. So Meyer introduced him to Glenwood’s clients. This enabled Griffin to raise an $18 million fund he called Wellington Partners.

This was the beginning of Citadel LLC, the company that made Griffin a multi-billionaire.

ken griffin trading
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Citadel LLC and Citadel Securities

Citadel LLC had an initial AUM (assets under management) of $18 million when Griffin founded the company in 1990 and a year later, he made a return of an essentially unheard-of 43% return. In 1992, he continued to shock top traders when he made a return of 40% by trading US and Japanese convertibles.

By 1994, Citadel LLC employed 60 people and had $200 million in assets under management. However, when the convertible market tanked, bonds and stocks fell across the board. Concerned by the situation, investors withdrew around a third of Citadel’s capital and the firm suffered a major loss dropping by 4.3%.

Not long after, the firm breezed through the dot-com bubble and the market crash and continued on its winning streak between 1995 and 2007. By 2007, it had $16 billion in assets under management.

In 2003, at the age of 24, Ken Griffin was the youngest person on the Forbes 400. His net worth at the time was $650 million. In 2002, he also founded Citadel Securities, a market maker where he still owns an 80% stake today. Serving over 1,600 clients among which are the largest central banks and sovereign wealth funds, this business has built up its fortune to billions at this point. Ken Griffin serves as the non-executive chairman of Citadel Securities.

The financial crisis of 2007-2008 which lasted for approximately 10 months was the worst period in Citadel LLC’s history. The firm was losing hundreds of millions of dollars weekly and finished 2008 down 55%. However, in 2009, it rebounded and was even stronger than before – counting a 62% return. To put this and his other years of 40%+ returns, the average hedge fund returns about 5.4% annually, less than even the S&P 500 most years.

ken griffin citadel perfornance chart
Despite numerous accusations throughout the years, including the Gamestop controversy, Ken Griffin, the co-chief investment officer and CEO of the hedge fund firm continues to outperform. In 2022, when hedge funds had their worst year for returns since 2008 and most of them suffered a 6.5% loss, Citadel achieved its best annual performance ever, counting $16 billion in profits and over $62 billion in assets under management.
citadel performance over time

GameStop Controversy

Griffin’s career at the Citadel brands hasn’t been without controversies. He suffered major criticism from retail investors on social media about his association with the Gamestop short squeeze incident in 2021. In 2020 and early 2021, massive investors like the hedge fund Melvin Capital were making gargantuan short positions on Gamestop, assuming that the already struggling business would soon die.

A group of Redditors noticed that there were more short positions than there were outstanding stocks, meaning that short sellers would have a ton of trouble closing their positions if Gamestop started to move up (called a short squeeze). So they decided to come to the rescue and banded together to buy up as much Gamestop stock as they could and it worked like a charm. The stock skyrocketed 2,000%, utterly destroying the short positions that hedge funds were holding (and making themselves a huge profit).

During this period, Melvin Capital suffered billion-dollar losses due to the surge in the stock. Citadel became involved in the controversy when it invested $2 billion in Melvin Capital in the middle of the short squeeze. It was also the target of rumors after the popular trading app Robinhood halted trading of Gamestop stock after having unknown discussions with Citadel. No wrongdoing has been conclusively proven as of yet, however.

Earnings from Citadel LLC

While we couldn’t confirm what Griffin’s salary is at Citadel Securities, we found some information on what he has earned over the years working as the CEO and co-chief investment officer of Citadel LLC:

Year Earnings
2009 $900 million
2014 $1.4 billion
2016 $600 million
2017 $1.4 billion
2018 $870 million
2019 $1.5 billion
2020 $1.8 billion
2022 $4.1 billion
His stake in Citadel Securities is estimated at 80%, which based on the company’s valuation of $22 billion from two years before, makes for over $17 billion added to his already big net worth.

Philanthropy

Ken Griffin is a major philanthropist, having donated to various causes over the years. Here are some of his biggest donations and philanthropic activities over the years:

  • Worked with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to fund tutoring and promote charter schools in the US.
  • Made a $150 million donation to the Harvard University financial aid program in 2014, the largest gift made to the institution at the time.
  • Was elected to a 5-year term on the board of trustees at the University of Chicago. In 2011, he worked with John A. List, an economics professor at the university.
  • Donated $10 million to the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago in 2015.
  • Donated $40 million to the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 2015.
  • Donated $1 million to the Obama Foundation in 2017.
  • Donated $125 million to support the Kenneth C. Griffin Department of Economics at the University of Chicago in 2017.
  • Donated a $125 million gift to the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago in 2019, the largest gift in the museum’s history.
  • Donated $5 million to provide internet access to students in Miami in 2021.
  • Donated $21.5 million to the Field Museum of Natural History.
  • Donated $2.5 million to support food services for children in the Chicago Public Schools in response to the pandemic in 2020.
  • Donated $40 million to the American Museum of Natural History in New York for its renovation in 2022.
  • Donated $130 million to Chicago nonprofits in July 2022.
ken griffin philanthropic work
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In April 2023, Ken Griffin donated $300 million to Harvard’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences, but recently stated that he won’t be making any more donations unless the place shapes up, calling the students “whiny snowflakes”.

What Does Ken Griffin Invest In?

The majority of net gains and investments of Griffin are through Citadel. For instance, Griffin and Citadel have invested heavily in Nvidia. This investment reportedly constitutes over 1% of its portfolio and is worth over $1.39 billion. Today, Citadel is said to control 2.05 million shares of NVDA stock.

Other major investments of Griffin and Citadel are in Microsoft, of which it currently owns 3.67 million shares, and in Eli Lilly, where the hedge fund firm increased its position by buying 214,000 shares for $515.

At one point, the American billionaire was in talks to fund a transatlantic takeover bid for The Telegraph led by Sir Paul Marshall. However, the sale was canceled when RedBird IMI helped the Barclay family repay their debt to Lloyds Banking Group.

In addition to investments in businesses through his hedge fund, Griffin also has some of the biggest art and real estate collections in the world.

Art Collection

Griffin’s net worth is elevated thanks to his impressive art collection, now worth over $1 billion. Here are some of his most notable art purchases over the years:

  • 1999: $60 million for Curtain, Jug, and Fruit Bowl by Paul Cezanne
  • 2006: $80 million for False Start by Jasper Johns
  • 2015: $46 million for Abstract Picture, 599 by Gerhard Richter
  • 2015: $500 million for two pieces from David Geffen: Interchange by William de Kooning, and Number 17A by Jackson Pollock
  • 2017: $200 million for Orange Marylin by Andy Warhol
  • 2020: Over $100 million for Jean-Michel Basquiat’s Boy and Dog in a Johnnypump, showcased at the Art Institute of Chicago

In addition to these pieces, the collector acquired a piece of American history, a rare copy of the US Constitution, and one of two versions that are privately owned today. He reportedly spent $43.2 million on this piece.

Most of his artworks are on display at the Norton Museum of Art in West Palm Beach after he moved them from the Art Institute of Chicago.

Real Estate

According to CNBC, Ken Griffin has spent over $750 million on real estate since 2013.

However, this number is ready to more than double since he started building the biggest property in the world, his $1 billion estate in Florida. The land is spread over 27 acres of Palm Beach, seven acres of which will be a separate home for his mother, Catherine Gratz Griffin.

ken griffin palm beach property
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Back in 2009, Griffin bought a full-floor apartment in New York City at 820 Fifth Avenue for $40 million.

In 2015, he purchased two apartments at the top of the Faena House in Miami Beach for $60 million, but he reportedly sold them in late 2020.

This is not the only luxurious property he owns, though – far from it. His $238 million purchase of a Central Park South condo in Manhattan is the highest price paid for a home in the United States. The condo was bought in 2019 and is located on Billionaire’s Row, with an incredible view of Central Park.

ken griffin manhattan condo
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In 2019, Griffin bought another property, a London mansion for which he paid $122 million. This was reportedly the most expensive real estate purchase in the city for nearly a decade. The property is located at 3 Carlton Gardens near Buckingham Palace and was once the home of Charles de Gaulle during World War II.

When the Citadel founder lived in Chicago, which was for around three decades, he spent $58.5 million to buy a Gold Coast condo in 2018. During the onset of the pandemic when he had to relocate the operations of the business from Chicago to Miami, he rented out the entire Four Seasons in Palm Beach for his employees and the servers.

In March 2020, at the start of the pandemic, he spent $84.44 million to buy Calvin Klein’s 7-acre lot in Southampton.

In 2022, Griffin set another real estate record when he bought a Miami-Dade single-family home for $106.9 million. He also owns seven adjacent lots as part of his ever-growing Star Island holdings in Miami. The mega-estate recently added another lot, repurchased from Alex Rodrigez, the New York Mets baseball team star for $45 million. The mega-estate is worth over $169 million.

In 2022, he bought a waterfront mansion in Coral Gabes, Florida for $45.25 million.

Private Jets

Ken Griffin owns at least two private jets:

  • 2001 Bombardier Global Express worth $9.5 million
  • 2012 Bombardier Global 6000 worth $50 million

What Can We Learn from Ken Griffin’s Story?

The story of Ken Griffin, one of the most successful hedge fund managers and founder of Citadel, has a lot to teach us.

Griffin started investing at a young age when he founded Citadel while still studying at Harvard. This early entrepreneurship highlights the importance of taking initiative and seizing opportunities, even if you haven’t completed your education or are still young. Most people are afraid to follow their passion without experience or money, so they don’t follow their passion until later in life.

Creating a company from an early age helped Griffin set up an incredible career for himself. Griffin grew alongside his business, using his talent and learning from his mistakes, all while building an empire.

He also teaches us an important lesson about risk management. Successful hedge fund managers like Griffin excel at risk management. It is all about learning to navigate financial markets, which is what propelled Citadel’s success and made Griffin’s stake in the company worth billions of dollars.

Another important lesson lies in Griffin’s style. He is known for his quantitative approach to investing. He uses sophisticated technology and algorithms for data analysis, creating an example of the importance of adopting a data-driven approach when you’re tackling finances.

Furthermore, his ability to adapt to changes has been a key factor in the company’s success. Being responsive to evolving markets such as the stock trades market is vital to success, especially in this industry.

Finally, his philanthropy has been massively impactful in the lives of thousands of people. Griffin’s donations to various causes highlight the importance of giving back to society, especially when you have plenty of money or time to give away. His philanthropic efforts are a lesson in personal and corporate responsibility.