Billionaire John Paulson and the Paulson Family Foundation are donating $100 million to the Central Park Conservancy, the largest parks donation ever.
Paulson, 56, is founder of Paulson & Co., a New York-based hedge fund that manages $21 billion across 10 funds. Paulson was worth $11.8 billion yesterday, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. His contribution will help renovate and maintain park facilities and pay for recreation programs, said Doug Blonsky, president of the conservancy, which is responsible for its maintenance and operations. Half will bolster the park’s endowment, which now stands at $144 million, Blonsky said.
Paulson was raised in the middle-class Beechhurst section of Bayside, in New York’s Queens borough. As a child, his parents took him through the park in a stroller, he said. He was valedictorian at New York University and attended Harvard Business School.
After working in risk arbitrage at Bear Stearns Cos., Odyssey Partners and Gruss Partners, Paulson founded Paulson & Co. in 1994, with $2 million from friends and family.
Why is it that people from Queens who do well for themselves never give back to Queens? Does Central Park really look like it needs $100M? No.
Does Flushing Meadows look like it needs $100M? Yes.
From A Walk in the Park:
Private organizations help raise money for some of the city’s other parks but their budgets are tiny compared with the Central Park Conservancy.
Some advocates of city parks have complained that other parks are neglected in comparison to Central Park, one of the city’s best-known destinations.
“It’s wonderful for Central Park, but there are thousands of other park properties in New York City that desperately need funding,” said Geoffrey Croft, president of NYC Park Advocates. “This gift is a reminder of the enormous disparities that exist between the haves and the have-nots.”