Warren Buffett lunch auction draws US$3.3 million winning bid

This year's winning bid for a chance to dine with Warren Buffett was US$3.3 million (S$4.4 million), short of the US$3.46 million record in 2016.
This year's winning bid for a chance to dine with Warren Buffett was US$3.3 million (S$4.4 million), short of the US$3.46 million record in 2016.PHOTO: REUTERS

NEW YORK (BLOOMBERG) - The chance to dine with Warren Buffett costs US$3.3 million (S$4.4 million) this year.

That was the winning bid for a lunch with the billionaire investor in a week-long charity auction that concluded on Friday (June 1) on EBay Inc.'s website.

This year's price was short of the US$3.46 million record in 2016, ranking third in the event's history. For a third straight year, the auction's winner asked to remain anonymous, organisers said.

Buffett, 87, has participated in the annual auction for almost two decades to benefit Glide, a San Francisco-based charity. The lunch with the investing guru generally brings in more than 10 per cent of the organisation's budget and helps fund projects that address hunger, poverty and homelessness.

This year's auction will aid the charity, which has seen the demand for its services skyrocket, according to Glide's president and chief executive officer Karen Hanrahan.

"It was spectacular," Hanrahan said of the auction in an interview. "This is just an extraordinary gift that Warren gives to Glide."

The winner of the auction gets to bring seven friends to a lunch with Buffett at Smith & Wollensky in New York.

In the past, top bidders have included hedge fund manager David Einhorn. Ted Weschler submitted the highest offer in both 2010 and the following year. He then scored a job with Buffett in 2011 and now helps oversee Berkshire Hathaway Inc.'s investments.

Buffett's known to draw a crowd for his advice on investing, and he fills an indoor convention center with thousands of people during his company's annual meeting. As Berkshire's chief executive officer and chairman, he's built the company into a sprawling US$475 billion corporation that touches areas from the railroad industry to insurance.

Bidding for this year's auction started on May 27 and was heating up through the middle of the week with a top bid reaching US$2.9 million early on Wednesday. The competition later ticked higher, amassing a total of 136 bids.

"Glide really takes people who have hit rock bottom and helps bring them back," Buffett said in a statement. "They've been doing it for decades. If I can help out by raising some money for them, then I enjoy doing it."