Billionaire hedge fund manager John Paulson has pledged $100 million to the private organization that maintains Central Park in partnership with New York City, making the largest gift ever in the park’s 155-year history.
Paulson, who made a fortune in 2007 by betting the United States housing market would slump, announced the contribution to the Central Park Conservancy — which in 1998 took over maintenance of the park’s 843 acres — Tuesday.
“The Conservancy is responsible for transforming and sustaining Central Park as the celebration of culture, nature and democracy that it is today,” Mr. Paulson, 56, said in a press release issued by the Conservancy. “It is my hope that today’s contribution will help it endure and flourish and inspire others to join me in ensuring that the Park continues to receive the support it needs to be this city’s greatest asset.”
NBC News notes that half of Paulson’s donation will go to the park’s endowment ($144 million) and half to capital improvements, which include updating the main entrance on the park’s southwest corner, comfort stations, five visitor centers and recreation facilities as well as youth and family programs.
Central Park’s annual operating budget is around $46 million, and the conservancy provides 85 percent of that. Prior to Paulson’s $100 million contribution, the park’s previous record donation was $17 million, made in 1993.
“It is an enormous amount and we are in shock,” said Dena Libner, associate director of public relations at the conservancy, a group which restores and maintains the park.
Bloomberg has more on billionaire John Paulson’s $100 million donation in the video below: