Legendary hedge fund manager John Paulson, the billionaire founder of Paulson &. Co., and the Paulson Family Foundation announced a gift of $100 million to the Central Park Conservancy today.
The gift is believed to be the largest donation ever to a public park, according to a release.
Paulson, who famously bet against the subprime housing market in 2007, also serves on the Board of Trustees of the Central Park Conservancy.
Here’s the full release:
Today, John A. Paulson and the Paulson Family Foundation announced a gift of $100 million to the Central Park Conservancy to sustain the fundamental role of Central Park as one of New York City’s leading cultural institutions and the world’s most extraordinary public park.
Mr. Paulson’s donation is the largest gift ever made to the Central Park Conservancy. It is also the largest gift to any public park and one of the largest ever made to a New York City cultural institution. It will sustain and advance the innovation of the Conservancy’s management and maintenance practices and allow for improvements to park-wide infrastructure, Central Park’s 21 playgrounds, 130 acres of woodlands, five visitor centres, and youth and family programming and recreation facilities.
The Conservancy’s management practices will be sustained and developed as a model for public-private partnerships locally and worldwide. Already, the Conservancy’s model has influenced the management of public spaces such as Prospect Park, Brooklyn Bridge Park and Battery Park in New York City.
Mr. Paulson’s gift comes at a time of unprecedented use of Central Park: with more than 40 million annual visitors, Central Park is visited by more people than any other New York City cultural institution.
“Central Park was created by two individuals — Olmsted and Vaux — in 1858. In 1980, a group of individuals banded together to restore it to its long-forgotten glory,” said Doug Blonsky, President and CEO of the Central Park Conservancy. “Today, John joins these visionaries to sustain Central Park well into the future. This has always been a park designed for and sustained by the people – a celebration of the people’s right to relax, reflect and celebrate. John shares that vision, and thanks to him Central Park’s purpose will endure.”
“It is a great privilege to be able to contribute to the Central Park Conservancy, one of the most important cultural institutions in New York,” said Mr. Paulson. “The Conservancy is responsible for transforming and sustaining Central Park as the celebration of culture, nature and democracy that it is today. 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.”
“Over the past 33 years, the Central Park Conservancy has led the world’s most significant public park into the longest period of sustained health in its history,” said Thomas L. Kempner, Jr., Chairman of the Central Park Conservancy’s Board of Trustees. “John’s gift helps ensure that its excellence endures for generations to come and acknowledges its importance to the cultural and economic health of New York City.”
“This generous gift will ensure that the park remains as Frederick Olmsted and Calvert Vaux envisioned it a century and a half ago: a peaceful oasis right in the middle of the busiest city in the world, and a community gathering place that is experienced by all New Yorkers on equal grounds, regardless of background or walk of life,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “Central Park has an enormous economic impact on our city – 40 million annual visitors generating $1 billion in economic activity – and that’s in large part due to the great work of the Central Park Conservancy, the Parks Department and the New York City Police Department, who have worked together since 1980 to restore Central Park to its glory and take it to new heights.”
“During the past 30 years, Central Park has been transformed into the work of art envisioned by Olmsted and Vaux, thanks to the City’s partnership with the Central Park Conservancy,” said Parks & Recreation Commissioner Veronica M. White. “This exceptionally generous donation from John A. Paulson will help ensure that Central Park flourishes for years to come.”
John Paulson is the President and Portfolio Manager of Paulson & Co.Inc., a New York headquartered investment management firm with additional offices in London and Hong Kong. Mr. Paulson serves on the Board of Trustees of New York University; Board of Trustees of the Spence School; the Deans Advisory Board of the Harvard Business School; the Board of Directors of the 92nd Street Y; the Board of the Partnership for New York City; the Board of Trustees of the Central Park Conservancy; and the Chairman’s Circle of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Since 1980, the Central Park Conservancy has managed the investment of nearly $700 million into Central Park, almost $550 million of which was raised by the Conservancy from hundreds of thousands of individuals, corporations and foundations for the Park’s restoration and maintenance. The Conservancy is responsible for the physical management of the Park along with its funding, privately fundraising more than 80 per cent of Central Park’s $45.8 million annual budget.
For 153 years, Central Park has been the people’s park. Thanks to the vision and generosity of benefactors like John Paulson, Central Park’s future as the park New York City needs and deserves is secure.