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NEW YORK – (AFP) – New York’s famed Central Park saw a different kind of green when a hedge fund billionaire made a $100 million donation, said to be the largest gift to a park of all time.
John Paulson, who made a fortune with the Paulson & Co. Inc. investment fund, announced the contribution to the Central Park Conservancy, which manages the Manhattan institution, at the iconic Bethesda Fountain.
“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,” he said.
“The Conservancy is responsible for transforming and sustaining Central Park as the celebration of culture, nature and democracy that it is today,” he said. “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.”
Central Park has been dubbed the lungs of New York for its spread of open grass, woodlands and ponds, stretching from the Midtown area into the upper reaches of Manhattan.
It has also been something of a barometer of the city’s fortunes, becoming crime-ridden and badly kept in the 1970s and 1980s, before gradually being restored to its currently excellent condition.
“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,” the Conservancy said in a statement.
“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.”