Saturday, June 11, 2011
For $2.63 million, a lunch with Buffett
An anonymous bidder agreed Friday to pay more than $2.6 million for a lunch with billionaire investor Warren Buffett, offering a final amount after the auction closed that topped last year's bid that set a record for the most expensive charity item ever sold on eBay.
When online bidding ended Friday night, the high bid fell short of the record, standing at $2,345,678. However, organizers say the bidder wanted to spend more to top last year's $2.6 million and settled on a final amount of $2,626,411.
The amount isn't considered a bidding record for eBay's charity auctions because the record total was only surpassed after bidding had closed, eBay spokeswoman Lonnie Shekhtman said.
All proceeds go to the Glide Foundation, which provides social services to the poor and homeless in San Francisco.
Buffett will spend several hours discussing whatever it is the winner would like to talk about, traditionally at New York's Smith and Wollensky steak house. The only topics the billionaire chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway will not broach are potential future investments.
"I've met a lot of nice people through this," Buffett said.
Last year's record-setting auction was won by an anonymous American who placed the $2.6 million bid. The most expensive item ever sold on eBay was a jet that drew $4.9 million, eBay spokeswoman Amanda Miller said.
In 2009, Canadian investment firm Salida Capital paid $1.68 million to dine with Buffett. In 2008, a Chinese investment fund manager paid $2.11 million.
The annual lunch auction is a huge revenue generator at Glide, which operates on a $17 million annual budget. The charity estimates that Buffett has raised nearly $9 million over the past 12 years through auctioned lunches.
Buffett's late first wife, Susan, introduced him to Glide's founder, the Rev. Cecil Williams.
Buffett has been slowly giving away the bulk of his fortune since 2006. The plans to eventually divide most of his shares of Berkshire stock between five charitable foundations, with the largest chunk going to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Buffett company owns roughly 80 subsidiaries including insurance, furniture, clothing, jewelry and candy companies, restaurants and natural gas and corporate jet firms, and has major investments in such companies as Coca-Cola Co. and Wells Fargo & Co.