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NYC's Central Park gets $100 million donation from hedge fund billionaire

Stan Honda / AFP - Getty Images file

New York City's Central Park covers 843 acres.

Calling it the largest donation ever to a park in the U.S., New York City on Tuesday announced that hedge fund billionaire John Paulson had donated $100 million to the nonprofit that maintains Central Park.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg joined Paulson and others at a ceremony at the park's Bethesda Fountain Tuesday morning.

"Central Park is the most deserving of all of New York’s cultural institutions," Paulson told reporters. "And I wanted the amount to make a difference. The park is very large, and its endowment is relatively small."

The donation will go to the Central Park Conservancy, which in 1998 took over maintenance of the park's 843 acres.

The park's endowment is at $144 million. Its annual operating budget is around $46 million, and the conservancy provides 85 percent of that.

Half of Paulson's donation will go to the endowment, half to capital improvements.

Paulson has been a member of the conservancy's board since June, the New York Times reported.

With a personal net worth estimated by Forbes at $12 billion, Paulson made his biggest profit in 2007 by betting the U.S. housing market would slump. When it did, triggering the recession, his correct bet netted him an estimated $4 billion.

Last year, however, his main funds had double-digit percent losses from premature bets on a strong economic recovery. 

Paulson, 56, and his family will have a birds-eye view of the improvements -- they have a Fifth Avenue apartment facing the park's east side and overlooking its reservoir, BusinessWeek reported.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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