Private lunch with Warren Buffett goes to highest bidder for $3.4M
Omaha (US) (AP): Billionaire Warren Buffett has again auctioned off a private lunch to raise money for a San Francisco homeless charity, and this time the meal goes to the highest bidder for USD 3.4 million.
The bid of USD 3,456,789 from last night’s winner, who wishes to remain anonymous, ties for the record highest. In 2012, the winner also paid USD 3,456,789 to become the most expensive individual charity item ever sold on eBay.
The weeklong eBay auction began Sunday and wrapped up last night. By midmorning yesterday, the bidding reached more than USD 2.6 million, nearly USD 300,000 higher than last year’s winning bid by Beijing-based Dalian Zeus Entertainment Co.
Six of the past eight winners paid more than USD 2 million to dine with Buffett, the investor who leads the Berkshire Hathaway conglomerate.
Buffett has raised more than USD 20 million for the Glide Foundation. The lunch auctions began after Buffett’s first wife, Susie, showed him Glide, where she had been volunteering.
Susie Buffett died in 2004, but the connection between Warren Buffett and Glide’s founders has endured. Buffett has praised the foundation’s approach in providing meals, health care, job training, rehabilitation and housing support to the poor and homeless.
“I am proud to be part of something that has directly benefited so many people in need,” Buffett said ahead of the auction. “Glide is a bridge for thousands of people on the brink of despair, helping them achieve dignity and opportunity by providing them with basic services.”
The Rev Cecil Williams, one of Glide’s co-founders, said the cumulative effect of the donations has been “astonishing.” Buffett has said he gets a wide range of questions at the lunches that usually run for several hours.
The only limit on lunch conversation is what Buffett might invest in next, but any other topic is open.
The winners of the lunch auction typically dine with Buffett at Smith and Wollensky steak house in New York City, which donates at least USD 10,000 to Glide each year to host the lunch. But when the winner wants to remain anonymous, the lunch happens elsewhere.
Buffett’s company owns more than 90 subsidiaries including insurance, furniture, railroad, jewelry and candy companies, restaurants and natural gas and corporate jet firms, and has major investments in such companies as Coca-Cola Co, IBM and Wells Fargo & Co.