Despite the tough economy, hedge fund manager Arpad Busson’s charity managed to top its fundraising goal at its London gala yesterday. Of course, there aren’t many hedge fund foundations that can call on the kind of star power that Busson has at hand.
Absolute Return for Kids raised £15.6 million (US$25.4 million) at the dinner, helped in part by a last-ditch pitch by Busson’s girlfriend, the actress Uma Thurman, standing on a chair and imploring hedgies to give generously. The figure was well below the £25 million (US$40.7 million) raised at last year’s gala, but also well about the £10 million (US$16.3 million) target set for the event, which featured 300 fewer attendees than in 2008.
Still, from inside the now disused Waterloo International train station, one could be forgiven forgetting that times are tough for the global economy, and for hedge funds. Attendees paid £10,000 just to sit down, and spent £5,000 on raffle tickets for a chance to win one of five cars painted by British artist Damien Hirst, he of the £50 million diamond-encrusted platinum human skull of two years ago.
A veritable hedge fund manager’s fantasyland was auctioned off, including a hunting party at Mulgrave Castle (£280,000), a drive around a test track (V150,000) and a visit to Team Ferrari’s digs at the Monaco Grand Prix (£120,000).