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Sat, Jul 12, 2003 - Page 12 News List

Buffett lunch earns US$250,100

FUNDRAISER In a development closely watched by charitable organizations, eBay earned a quarter of a million US dollars for the homeless shelter ''Glide Foundation''


Lunch for eight with billionaire investor Warren Buffett, head of Berkshire Hathaway Inc and the world's second-richest man, fetched a top bid of US$250,100 in a charity auction on EBay Inc's Web site.

The bid from EBay user "schtinyt" came in the final hour of the auction, topping 139 other offers in the past five days.

Proceeds from the auction will go to the Glide Foundation, a nonprofit group in San Francisco.

The auction, which opened last Saturday at 9pm West Coast time with a US$10,000 bid and ended at 9pm yesterday West Coast time, may change the way charitable organizations try to raise money.

The online bidding raised more than twice as much as the combined total from all three previous lunches Buffett hosted for Glide, which were offered through live auctions.

Online auctions "seem to be a fairly new type of fund raising that's getting started," said Joye Storey, a city program administrator for the Salvation Army chapter in San Francisco.

"It's definitely a direction that some non-profits are heading in." Rolf Bell, Glide's director of development said he was unable to immediately identify "schtinyt."

The winner will get a lunch for eight people in New York City between May 5 and 14 next year.

An earlier sit-down can be arranged in Omaha, Nebraska, where Berkshire is based.

The Glide Foundation provides programs to about 30,000 homeless and needy people in the San Francisco area.

Berkshire's Class A shares rose US$600 to US$73,100 in New York Stock Exchange composite trading. EBay shares fell US$2.76, or 2.4 percent, to US$112.08 in NASDAQ Stock Market trading.

Bidders were screened in advance to reduce the chances of fake bids and were asked to provide information on their ability to pay, Bell said.

"The chance of one of the top three bidders submitting an authentic bid is near certain," Bell said earlier today.

The top bidder has seven days to pay before the auction item moves to the next bidder, he said.

The Buffett auction spawned two other lunch offers from EBay users, one from an Omaha native who earns less than US$40,000 a year and offered to tell all on how he pays child support and eats on only US$100 a month.

The other was from a man in Tampa, Florida, who offered to take someone to McDonald's and then acknowledged he wasn't accepting any bids.

Buffett has a fortune of more than US$30 billion, second only to Microsoft Corp.'s Bill Gates.

EBay will receive at least US$2,000 for hosting the auction.

The highest bid for a celebrity listing on the site was US$425,000 last April for a golf outing at the Isleworth Country Club in Orlando, Florida with Tiger Woods.

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