US & Canada

John Paulson gives $100m to New York's Central Park

John Paulson gives testimony on Capitol Hill, in Washington DC November 2008
John Paulson was required to give testimony in Washington DC during the financial crisis

A billionaire hedge fund manager has donated $100m (£63m) to the group that runs New York's Central Park.

The gift from John Paulson, of Paulson & Co, is thought to be the largest ever given to a public park.

The endowment was announced with New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg at Bethesda Fountain, in Central Park.

Mr Paulson, 56, said the park was the "most democratic" of the city's great cultural institutions, and his gift would benefit all New Yorkers.

"John is a man who knows a good investment when he sees one," said Doug Blonsky, the chief executive of the private conservancy that maintains Central Park, the Associated Press reported.

"Central Park is fundamental to the economic and cultural health of New York City and the quality of life of its residents."

Half of the donation has been allocated for capital improvements, while the other half is to go to the park's endowment - currently worth $144m. The gift amounts to more than twice the park's annual budget of nearly $46m.

The attraction's facilities include 21 playgrounds and 130 acres of woodland, conservation officials said.

But Geoffrey Croft, president of NYC Park Advocates, said: "It's wonderful for Central Park, but there are thousands of other park properties in New York City that desperately need funding."

"This gift is a reminder of the enormous disparities that exist between the haves and the have-nots."

Mr Paulson's personal wealth is estimated to be worth about $12.3 billion, according to Forbes magazine.

The native New Yorker is known for a shrewd bet he made against the subprime mortgage market in 2007.

Mr Paulson profited when the US housing market crashed in the financial crisis - an investment that became the subject of a best-selling book by Michael Lewis, called The Big Short.

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