Buffett lunch costs bidder millions

  • 03/06/2018
Warren Buffett
Warren Buffett, one of the world's richest men. Photo credit: Getty

An anonymous bidder has agreed to pay US$3,300,100 at auction to have a private lunch with Warren Buffett, the billionaire chairman of Berkshire Hathaway.

The winning bid came near the end of a five-day online auction on eBay to benefit the Glide Foundation, a San Francisco charity that serves people who are poor, homeless or battling substance abuse.

It was the third-highest price in the 19 years Mr Buffett has offered lunch, near the record US$3,456,789 bid in both the 2012 and 2016 auctions. This year's auction drew 136 bids from just six bidders before ending on Friday night.

The auction helps cover Glide's US$20 million annual budget, which goes towards providing roughly 750,000 free meals, shelter, HIV and Hepatitis C tests, job training, and children's day care and after-school programs.

"Glide really takes people who have hit rock bottom and helps bring them back," Mr Buffett said in a statement.

Mr Buffett, 87, has raised US$29.6 million for Glide through the 19 auctions.

His first wife Susan, who died in 2004, introduced him to Glide after volunteering there. The Reverend Cecil Williams, 88, Glide's charismatic co-founder, remains a minister at its affiliated church.

"The $3.3 million is an extraordinary gift, not just the money but the fact that Warren Buffett lends his name and reputation and shines a light on the work Glide does," Glide's president, Karen Hanrahan, said by phone. "Demand for our services is skyrocketing, in this city of innovation and wealth."

The winning bidder and up to seven friends can dine with Mr Buffett at the Smith & Wollensky steak house in Manhattan.

Mr Buffett will discuss anything apart from what he might invest in next.

Ted Weschler, a hedge fund manager, paid a combined US$5.25 million to win the 2010 and 2011 auctions, and later joined Berkshire as one of Buffett's investment managers.

Berkshire has more than 90 businesses in the insurance, energy, food and retail, industrial, railroad, real estate and other sectors, and also invests in companies such as Apple Inc , Wells Fargo & Co and Coca-Cola Co .

PAST GLIDE AUCTION WINNERS*

  • 2000: Pete Budlong, $25,000
  • 2001: Jim Halperin and Scott Tilson, $20,000
  • 2002: Jim Halperin and Scott Tilson, $25,000
  • 2003: David Einhorn, Greenlight Capital, $250,100
  • 2004: Jason Choo, Singapore, $202,100
  • 2005: Anonymous, $351,100
  • 2006: Yongping Duan, California, $620,100
  • 2007: Mohnish Pabrai, Guy Spier, Harina Kapoor, $650,100
  • 2008: Zhao Danyang, Pure Heart Asset Management, China, $2,110,100
  • 2009: Courtenay Wolfe, Salida Capital, Canada, $1,680,300
  • 2010: Ted Weschler, $2,626,311
  • 2011: Ted Weschler, $2,626,411
  • 2012: Anonymous, $3,456,789
  • 2013: Anonymous, $1,000,100
  • 2014: Andy Chua, Singapore, $2,166,766
  • 2015: Zhu Ye, Dalian Zeus Entertainment Co, China, $2,345,678
  • 2016: Anonymous, $3,456,789
  • 2017: Anonymous, $2,679,001
  • 2018: Anonymous, $3,300,100

* All prices in US dollars

Reuters