The Museum of Modern Art has tapped Lou Fernandes, a veteran endowment investment head, as its CIO, effective immediately.
Fernandes served for six years at New York University as its endowment’s managing director of investments. Before that, he was at San Francisco-based Hall Capital Partners, an outsourced chief investment officer.
The storied MoMA, located in Midtown Manhattan, houses many iconic works of art, including paintings by Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali and Jasper Johns. The museum, founded in 1929 by high-society types, first earned wide notice with a showing of Picasso’s works. Today, it features a who’s-who of wealthy folks as trustees, ranging from David Rockefeller Jr. to Sid Bass to Ronald Lauder.
“Lou brings more than two decades of finance and investment experience to MoMA, including expertise in building teams, constructing and managing investment portfolios and partnering with managers across asset classes,” said James Gara, the museum’s chief operating officer. Fernandes will manage the diversified investment portfolio for MoMA’s endowment, pension and retirement plan.
Fernandes, educated as a Master of Business Administration and a Master of Arts in education at Stanford University, is a CFA charter holder and graduated summa cum laude from the University of California, Davis. He replaces Tony Wai, who is now CIO at financial firm BVC Financial. Wai was at MoMA for 19 years in the investment shop, the last five as CIO, according to his LinkedIn profile.
The MoMA had more than $2 billion in net assets as of mid-2022, the end of its last fiscal year. Like so many institutions, the museum has seen its investments take a pounding in the current turbulent markets. Its investment portfolio shrank 9.5% between June 2021 and June 2022. The stocks section of its holdings went down by 42%.
But it continues to receive remarkable backing: In October, a foundation created by the late CBS founder William Paley, the museum’s former chairman and president, auctioned off a collection of masterpieces displayed at MoMA with the goal of raising some $70 million to increase the museum’s digital presence.