Credit Crisis Diary: 06/06/2009


Charity begins at a hedgie's home


To the ARK annual charity dinner, where City financiers are keen to prove that while they may be down, they're very much not out. The bash for children's charities was organised by Arpad Busson, the hedge fund manager, with the help of partner Uma Thurman, the actress.

The evening, famed for its excess, had a fund-raising target of £10m this year, well down on the £25m raised in 2008. After a tough year, expectations were modest, but the final total came in at a pretty impressive £15.6m.

Exit Stevie Wonder, stage left

The organisers were also keen to point out that the event was not as lavish as in times gone by, and cost a third less than last year's dinner to stage. While the champagne was still flowing, the evening was headlined by a performance from the Swann Band, covering rock'n'roll tracks. Last year they had Stevie Wonder.

Boris backs his banker friends again

Boris Johnson, the London mayor, who has been resolute in his defence of City bankers, naturally felt obliged to make an appearance at the bash, which is in keeping with his view of financiers as wealth creators and philanthropists. "Give, and give a withering retort to all the people who line up to criticise the financial sector," Boris urged the crowds.

Clarkson's cars selling like hot cakes

In the end, the guests were only too pleased to oblige. In the charity auction, a shooting party at Mulgrave Castle in Yorkshire – which went for £280,000, down from £350,000 last year – was one of the few disappointments. A Jeremy Clarkson-hosted test driving event, on the other hand, raised £150,000, while a pass for the Ferrari team's paddock at the Monaco Grand Prix sold for £120,000.

Protesters seek to spoil the big night

Sometimes, however, even the most charitable actions do not please everyone. Arriving at the bash, held on the old Eurostar platforms at Waterloo Station in London, the well-heeled guests had to run the gauntlet of public opprobrium. A small group of protesters – well, three if we're honest – chanted "shame on hedge-fund speculators" as people queued to get in.

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