By Medha Singh
Aug 18 (Reuters) - Short interest in star investor Cathie Wood's flagship ARK Innovation ETF was at a record high, data from analytics firm S3 Partners showed on Wednesday, as several hedge funds disclosed this week they had bet against the top performing ETF of 2020.
About 24.87 million shares - or 13.4% of the ETF's free float - are currently shorted, making it the largest short in the ARK family of ETFs, said Ihor Dusaniwsky, managing director of predictive analytics at S3 Partners.
The family office run by "Big Short" investor Michael Burry was among a slate of hedge funds revealing bearish bets on the ETF, which is renowned for making investments based on thematic trends rather than fundamentals or valuation.
Burry, who is famous for betting more than $1 billion against the U.S. housing bubble during the global financial crisis, said on Monday he owned "put options" against 235,500 ARK shares as of June 30.
Put options give investors the right to sell shares at a certain price in the future. Details on the strike price of the puts, their value and whether they were part of a broader trade were not available.
Wood responded to Burry's position https://twitter.com/CathieDWood/status/1427593348387311617 in a tweet on Tuesday, saying, "I do not believe that he (Burry) understands the fundamentals that are creating explosive growth and investment opportunities in the innovation space."
The $25.52 billion ARK Innovation fund has fallen nearly 7% so far in 2021 as a rally fizzled out in the megacap technology-related stocks space including Tesla Inc, which helped the ETF soar 148% in 2020, outperforming all other U.S. equity funds.
By comparison, the broader S&P 500 has climbed more than 18% this year.
ARK did not respond to a Reuters request for comment on Wednesday.
Laurion Capital Management, GoldenTree Asset Management, and Cormorant Asset Management also have put options on ARK worth $65.4 million to $171 million, 13F filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commision showed this month. (Reporting by Medha Singh and Ambar Warrick in Bengaluru; Editing by Bernard Orr)