What credit crisis? Super-rich can still spare £25m for charity

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

The global credit crunch may be forcing ordinary families to tighten their belts but philanthropy among Britain's super-rich, it seems, is in rude health.

More than 1,100 people paid £10,000 each for a ticket to a charity dinner in London on Thursday night which featured Stevie Wonder performing his first major UK performance in more than a decade.

Organisers of the Absolute Return for Kids (Ark) charity dinner had raised £28m at last year's event, but scaled down their initial target this year to £15m because of fears that financial pressures might limit the willingness of guests to delve deeply into their wallets.

But in the event, guests at the dinner held at the Royal Naval College in Greenwich dug deep and raised £25m for the charity run by Arpad "Arki" Busson, one of Britain's leading philanthropists. The success prompted Tony Blair – the event's after-dinner speaker – to quip that he was clearly not the only person to have become richer in the past year.

According to some of those who attended, most of the guests were determined not to let the current credit crunch get in the way of raising money for charity. "We thought that given the current climate £15m would be a good result so we're absolutely delighted with the final figure," said Lesley Smith who works at Ark and attended the dinner. "Much of the talk last night centred on how, during times of economic difficulty, it is of paramount importance that philanthropy is not curtailed."

Guests sipped champagne on the Thames before tucking into a menu by the top chef Tom Aikens, which included such culinary curiosities as "poached Shetland ray wings on a cushion of Kent apple tapioca" and "Truffle ice cream with hazelnut pana cotta and chocolate gnocchi".

The most expensive lot to be snapped up by affluent bidders on Thursday was a heart-shaped Damien Hirst painting titled All Things Must Pass, which was sold for £900,000. Another bid that generated acute interest was a cameo for a child alongside Uma Thurman in her forthcoming film Eloise in Paris which went for £450,000. A Fiat Cinquecento customised by the artist Tracey Emin, meanwhile, fetched £200,000.

Other winning bids in the auction included £350,000 for a weekend cliff-top shooting party at Mulgrave Castle in North Yorkshire and £200,000 for a tour by private jet of the Chateau Cheval Blanc and Chateau d'Yquem vineyards in France. The man behind the dinner, Mr Busson, is a French multimillionaire financier who has lived in the UK for the past 10 years and counts some of world's glitziest and richest people among his best friends. "We are keepers of the world's wealth," he told guests before the dinner began. "It's our responsibility to come together and give to our common humanity."

A former beau of the Australian supermodel Elle Macpherson, with whom he has two children, Mr Busson is currently dating Thurman and counts Madonna and Jemima Khan among his closest friends.

Announcing an initiative to train head teachers in India, Mr Busson said that he had been taken aback by the amount of money raised.

"I am thrilled by the overwhelming generosity of our guests, particularly given the more difficult financial and economic environment," he said. "These donations will transform the lives of tens of thousands of children in India, South Africa, eastern Europe and the UK."

Ark intends to hold a similar dinner in America later this year, the first time the charity has attempted to raise funds outside the United Kingdom.

The generous donations came as a report released yesterday showed that despite the current global economic uncertainty, corporate philanthropy has also increased in the past 12 months with the average large multi-national corporation giving £1.4m more than in 2006.

An annual survey of corporate giving by the American-based Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy found that 66 per cent of companies they surveyed increased their charity giving even though 56 per cent reported smaller profit margins.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Life and Style
Steve Shaw shows Kate how to get wet behind the ears and how to align her neck
healthSteven Shaw - the 'Buddha of Breaststroke' - applies Alexander Technique to the watery sport
Arts and Entertainment
The sight of a bucking bronco in the shape of a pink penis was too much for Hollywood actor and gay rights supporter Martin Sheen, prompting him to boycott a scene in the TV series Grace and Frankie
footballShirt then goes on sale on Gumtree
Terry Sue-Patt as Benny in the BBC children’s soap ‘Grange Hill’
voicesGrace Dent on Grange Hill and Terry Sue-Patt
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
Performers drink tea at the Glastonbury festival in 2010
Arts and Entertainment
Twin Peaks stars Joan Chen, Michael Ontkean, Kyle Maclachlan and Piper Laurie
tvName confirmed for third series
Cameron Jerome
footballCanaries beat Boro to gain promotion to the Premier League
Arts and Entertainment
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine