Sun, Jun 12, 2011 - Page 11 News List

Buffett lunch sold for US$2.3 million in online auction

AP, OMAHA, NEBRASKA

A private lunch with Warren Buffett sold for US$2.3 million on Friday night when online bidding ended, falling short of last year’s winning bid of US$2.6 million that set a record for the most expensive charity item ever sold on eBay.

Organizers didn’t immediately release the identity of the winner, whose exact bid was US$2,345,678. 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 chief executive 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 bid. The most expensive item ever sold on eBay was a jet that drew US$4.9 million, eBay spokeswoman Amanda Miller said.

In 2009, Canadian investment firm Salida Capital paid US$1.68 million to dine with Buffett. In 2008, a Chinese investment fund manager paid US$2.11 million.

The annual lunch auction is a huge revenue generator at Glide, which operates on a US$17 million annual budget. The charity estimates that Buffett has raised about US$9 million over the past 12 years through auctioned lunches.

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’s company owns about 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.

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