Hedge fund Billionaire John Paulson, together with the Paulson Family Foundation, is donating $100 million to the Central Park Conservancy in New York City. Paulson’s gift for the iconic park was the largest.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced Paulson’s donation during a news conference held at the Bethesda Fountain in Central Park on Tuesday.
Paulson wass born and raised in New York. During the news conference, he shared some of his family memories in the park. According to him, his grandparents spent their first date in the park. He remembered playing roller blades around the park, and visited the Bethesda Fountain covered with graffiti and without water flowing when he was a teenager. As an infant, he said he was pushed in a baby carriage around the park.
According to Paulson, he wants to make a difference in the Central Park through his gift. He said, “Walking through the park in different seasons, it kept coming back that in my mind, Central Park is the most deserving of all of New York’s cultural institutions. I wanted the amount to make a difference. The park is very large, and its endowment is relatively small.”
According to the report from the New York Times, the Central Park Conservancy current endowment is a $144 million endowment. The Central Park has an operating budget of $46 million a year.
Fifty percent of Paulson’s donation will go to the endowment, and the remaining 5o percent will be utilized for capital improvements. Paulson noted that the North Woods and the Merchant’s Gate entrance in the southwest corner of the park need improvement.
Dena Libner, associate director of public relations of Central Park Conservancy said Paulson’s contribution to the park is huge. Libner said, “It is an enormous amount and we are in shock.”
Paulson’s contribution is more than double the highest donation given by Joshua P. Rechnitz for the New York public system. Rechnitz who is a cyclist and a grandson of a philanthropist in New York, donated $40 million to build a field house in the city. The largest donation received by the Central Park was $17 million in 1993.
Paulson joined the Central Park Conservancy in June. He had been supporting Central park for two decades now.
According to Forbes, Paulson has a net worth of $12.3 billion. He earned his billions and became popular by betting on the collapse of the real estate market.