EIM Founder's Charity Ends Annual Gala

Apr 30 2013 | 11:52am ET

One of the premiere events on the hedge fund industry's social calendar has gone the way of Bear Stearns and canapés.

The ARK Gala Dinner, which for 10 years has raised hundreds of millions of dollars for EIM founder Arpad Busson's charity, Absolute Return for Kids, will not return in 2013. The organization said the annual dinner, typically held in unusual locations throughout London, was no longer the best way to raise money.

"The dinner was a great thing to get people to know us but we now want the programs to be front of mind," an ARK spokeswoman said. "More and more of the donors are coming to us interested in particular programs…. At the dinner, conversations are not as detailed."

Since the inaugural gala in 2002, ARK has raised more than US$230 million at the dinners, which featured auctions for items including an invitation to Nelson Mandela's 90th birthday party and the opportunity to do yoga with Sting. But that total has been dropping: In 2007, the gala raised £26.6 million; last year, the total was just £14.5 million.

The opulent event, with its £10,000 tickets, extravagant menus and star-studded guest list, has featured Prince William and his wife, Kate Middleton, Madonna, President Bill Clinton, actors Elizabeth Hurley, Carrie Mulligan and Kevin Spacey, and Busson's girlfriend, actress Uma Thurman.

ARK said it might occasionally hold gala dinners, but no longer as an annual event.

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