Chris Martin Guitar Lessons Auctioned for A.R.K.

A charity beloved of the hedge fund kings is Ark (Absolute Return for Kids), which pays close attention to how the money is spent, primarily on tackling HIV-Aids in South Africa, helping orphans in eastern Europe and on academy schools in Britain. It was founded by Arpad “Arki” Busson, best known as the former boyfriend of the supermodel Elle Macpherson, with whom he has two children.

Busson, 44, began his career selling toothpicks in his native Switzerland and is today one of the most powerful and flamboyant figures in the City, running his EIM hedge fund operation from a penthouse office in Mayfair. Thanks in part to his contacts, Ark recently raised £17.5m at a lavish ball at Marlborough House where 1,000 guests, including the environmentalist Zac Goldsmith, Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou of easyJet and the former racing driver Eddie Jordan, were serenaded by Sir Elton John.

A game of tennis with John in the south of France was auctioned for £70,000, while a guitar lesson with Chris Martin, the lead singer of Coldplay — followed by dinner with his actress wife Gwyneth Paltrow — made £140,000. Bill Clinton sent a personal letter of endorsement to every guest and Archbishop Desmond Tutu videotaped a message of thanks. Ark’s supporters had pledged £3 for ever £1 raised at the auction.

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