Hedge fund billionaire John Paulson and his foundation, the Paulson Family Foundation, are donating $100 million to the Central Park Conservancy, Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced at a news conference today. According to the New York Times, it is the largest-ever gift to a public park — more than twice the $40 million given by cyclist Joshua Rechnitz earlier this year to build a cycling track in Brooklyn Bridge Park.
The park currently has an endowment of $144 million. Half of Paulson’s gift will be given to the endowment while the other half will be used for capital improvements to the park, including the restoration of the park’s North Woods and the renovation of the Merchant’s Gate entrance at the park’s southwest corner.When asked what prompted the gift Paulson 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. And I wanted the amount to make a difference. The park is very large, and its endowment is relatively small.”Paulson made his billions by betting against the housing market, setting up funds as early as 2006 to profit from the decline of subprime mortgages. Paulson joined the parks Central Park Conservancy board in June. [NYT] —Christopher Cameron