BOSTON Oct 23 Billionaire hedge fund manager
John Paulson pledged $100 million to New York's Central Park
Conservancy, making the largest gift ever in the history of the
city's 155-year-old urban icon.
Paulson, whose personal net worth is estimated at $12.3
billion by Forbes, invests $20 billion for wealthy clients,
pension funds and endowments at Paulson & Co.
At a news conference held at the park's Bethesda Terrace,
the soft-spoken fund manager detailed his life-long connection
to the park, noting that his grandparents had their first date
there and that he roller-bladed there as a young man.
For the park, whose annual operating budget is $46 million,
Paulson's gift is nearly six times bigger than the previous
record donation of $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.
Paulson sailed to fame and fortune on a bet against the
overheated housing market in 2007, but last year his main funds
had double-digit percent losses from premature bets on a strong
In the $2 trillion hedge fund industry, the 56-year old
Paulson, who lives and works near the park, keeps a relatively
low profile, attending only a handful of industry conferences
and rarely surfacing in the social pages that celebrate his
rivals' donations to cultural institutions and civic causes.
Even his support of Republican presidential candidate Mitt
Romney, for whom he has hosted fund raisers at his Long Island
summer home, have not generated much press.
Until now, Paulson's charity donations were directed mainly
toward education and medicine. He made large gifts to his alma
mater, New York University, to Harvard Business School where he
earned a master's of business administration and to Southampton
Hospital on Long Island, New York.
(Reporting By Svea Herbst-Bayliss; Editing by Kenneth Barry)