Jeffrey Tarrant, a leading hedge fund investor who backed managers including Bill Ackman and Marc Lasry before they were stars, has died. He was 63.
Mr. Tarrant died on Aug. 5 at his home in Bridgehampton, N.Y., from a brain tumor that was first diagnosed and treated in 2017, according to a statement Wednesday from Protege Partners, the firm he founded.
"Jeff has been a pioneer and a significant influence in the development of the modern-day hedge fund seeding industry with great vision for the future," said Carol O'Donnell, chief executive officer of New York-based Protege. "It has been a privilege to know and work with him."
Mr. Tarrant was involved in the hedge fund industry for more than three decades. After graduating from University of California at Davis and getting an MBA from Harvard Business School in 1985, he joined Berkeley Asset Management, where he co-managed the Sequoia Fund, one of the first fund of hedge funds in the U.S. After managing money for several private families, he formed Protege in 2002 to farm out money to hedge funds.
Mr. Tarrant seeded or was an early investor in managers including Messrs. Ackman and Lasry and Jamie Dinan. Often at the forefront of spotting profitable trades or investment trends, Mr. Tarrant was the lead investor in John Paulson's fund, which made billions betting against U.S. subprime mortgages. More recently, he founded Mov37 to invest in funds that use artificial intelligence.
In early 2008, Mr. Tarrant and Protege made a high-profile wager with investor Warren Buffett. The billionaire bet Protege that over a 10-year period, the S&P 500 Index would outperform a portfolio of hedge funds. The hedge funds lost, and more than $2.2 million went to Mr. Buffett's charity of choice, Girls Inc. of Omaha.
Mr. Tarrant's philanthropic pursuits included producing and financing documentaries exploring social issues. He also helped found Absolute Return for Kids in 2002, a U.K.-based charity that raised more than $120 million over a decade. In 2011, he joined the board of global human rights group Witness at the invitation of co-founder and musician Peter Gabriel.
Mr. Tarrant is survived by daughters Paulina and Fabienne and sisters Dorothy and Lynn. Donations in his memory can be made to two medical research groups: Dr. David Reardon's Research Fund at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston and the Global Coalition for Adaptive Research in Los Angeles.