Mon, Jun 12, 2017 - Page 16 News List

Buffett charity lunch sells for US$2.68m


An anonymous fan of Warren Buffett agreed to pay US$2,679,001 at an online charity auction to have lunch with the billionaire chairman of Berkshire Hathaway Inc.

The winning bid came in the closing seconds of the five-day eBay auction, which drew 41 bids before ending on Friday night. It was lower than the record US$3,456,789 bid in similar auctions in 2012 and last year.

The money is to go to Glide, a San Francisco charity that provides food, healthcare and other services to the homeless, the impoverished and people struggling with substance abuse.

The successful bidder and up to seven friends are to dine with Buffett at the Smith & Wollensky steak house in Manhattan. All topics are fair game apart from where Buffett will invest next.

Buffett has held 18 annual auctions for Glide, raising about US$26.3 million. He became involved with Glide after his first wife, Susan, became a volunteer prior to her death in 2004.

“We are very delighted and proud that Mr Buffett has for years made sure that he participates,” Cecil Williams, 87, cofounder of Glide and pastor since 1963 of the Glide Memorial United Methodist Church, said after the auction ended.

Contributions have a “tremendous impact” on people who find themselves “really unable to come to grips with the issue of poverty in urban America,” Williams said.

Glide uses its US$18 million annual budget to provide more than 750,000 free meals, emergency shelter for 8,500 people, 2,600 HIV and Hepatitis C tests and daycare and after school programs for nearly 450 children.

Buffett, 86, is the world’s fourth-richest person, worth US$76.2 billion according to Forbes magazine. He is donating virtually all of his fortune to charity.

Past auction winners have included hedge fund manager Ted Weschler, who has paid a combined US$5.25 million to win two auctions.

He later became one of Buffett’s investing deputies and along with fellow deputy Todd Combs is likely to oversee Berkshire’s stock investments after Buffett departs.

The lunches that fetched US$3,456,789 remain the most expensive items sold on eBay where all proceeds went to charity. Bidding moved online in 2003.

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