Billionaire Hedge Fund Manager Donates $100M to Central Park

A New York hedge fund manager who made billions from predicting the housing collapse has donated an unprecedented $100 million gift to Central Park Conservancy.

Hedge fund manager John Paulson, 56, became a billionaire, earning $3.5 billion, from short selling sub-prime mortgages in 2007, according to Forbes. The conservancy said half the gift will go to funding capital improvements, such as the restoration of the North Woods and the landscape around Merchant's Gate.

“I enjoy Central Park almost every day," he said, noting that he frequents the park with his family. "Of all of New York City's great cultural institutions, I believe, Central Park is the most's open to people of all ages, all income levels, every race religion and nationality."

Cheryl Cardran, is a dog walker who visits the park several times a day with her charges. She doesn't begrudge anybody doing what he wants with his money, "especially when the park is a treasure for the city, and a lot of people do get use out of it." But she added she knows the money could be used to help less fortunate areas.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who was on hand for the announcement, said the gift won't free up any city funds for other smaller parks.

"The bigger parks will always have more cache, more ability to attract big gifts and more reason to give your big gifts to the parks, nobody's going to give $100 million to a tiny park," he said.

Most of Central Park's operating budget comes from the private Central Park Conservancy, which says it takes $46 million a year just to maintain the park.

Forbes pegged Paulson's net worth in September at $11 billion and named him No. 28 richest people in America. Mayor Michael Bloomberg was named No. 10.

Janet Babin, Colby Hamilton and Elizabeth Spain contributed reporting