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Chinese millionaire to serve a free lunch to 1,000 homeless people in New York City

By Reuters
Wednesday, June 25, 2014 13:03 EDT
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By Victoria Cavaliere

NEW YORK (Reuters) – A wealthy Chinese businessman who tried to buy the New York Times planned to serve a free lunch to 1,000 homeless people in New York’s Central Park on Wednesday with 250 of them dining in the park’s Loeb Boathouse restaurant.

Chen Guangbiao, who made his fortune in the recycling business, took out newspaper advertisements last week inviting “poor and destitute Americans” to lunch in the park.

During the meal, the Chinese philanthropist has promised to serenade his guests by singing “We Are the World,” the 1985 charity hit song to fund African famine relief.

“I want to spread the message in the U.S. that there are good philanthropists in China and not all are crazy spenders on luxury goods,” Chen told the South China Morning Post about his motivation for the lunch.

Some 250 diners will assemble in the banquet room of the Loeb Boathouse, backdrop for such films as “When Harry Met Sally” and television shows including “Sex and the City.” Hundreds of others will feast on the lawn outside, according to the New York City Rescue Mission, a homeless shelter helping to organize the event.

Chen, 46, had tried this year to buy the New York Times but the Ochs-Sulzberger family, which has owned the newspaper for generations, said it was not for sale.

(Reporting by Victoria Cavaliere; Editing by Barbara Goldberg and Bill Trott)

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