The largest white truffle found in half a century was snapped up at an auction last night by casino mogul Stanley Ho Hung-sun, who paid a record US$330,000 for the 1.5kg delicacy. The auction of the prized fungus, which drew 20 bids, began with a starting bid of US$50,000. It was held on Mr Ho's home turf at his Grand Lisboa hotel and casino in Macau. Mr Ho who beat out competing bids from British artist Damien Hirst and Sheik Mansoor Bin Zayed al Nahyan of Abu Dhabi, was suffering from a cold and did not attend the auction, instead making his bids over the phone to his fourth wife, Angela Leong On-kei. The sale, which attracted tycoons, movie stars and other celebrities, was part of the International Tuscan Truffle Auction held simultaneously across three cities - London, Florence and Macau. Money raised was to go to charities Caritas Macau, Britain's Consortium for Street Children and Telethon in Italy. Six of the 16 truffles sold at the international auction went under the hammer in Macau for a total of US$429,000. The truffle was second in size only to a 2.5kg fungus found in 1954 and presented to then US president Dwight Eisenhower. But even at a relatively modest 1.5kg, Mr Ho's fungus had apparently acquired the nickname 'Truffle of the Century'. The casino was linked by satellite with Florence and the Refettorio restaurant in London, run by Italian chef Giorgio Locatelli. Nevertheless, property tycoon Sir Gordon Wu Ying-sheung may be able to argue that Hong Kong still holds the record for a purchase of the biggest truffle. Sir Gordon paid a world record HK$1.25 million last year for an Alba white truffle believed to weigh between 1.5kg and 1.59kg, although he later admitted he was no fan of the pungent delicacy. Instead, support for his favourite charity, Mother's Choice, was his motivation. Truffle madness began to take off locally in 2005 when a group of wealthy Hongkongers paid what was then a world record HK$863,000 for a 1.2kg white truffle, which was prepared by chef Umberto Bombana of Toscana at the Ritz-Carlton hotel. And on November 11 this year, a group of mainland property developers joined forces to pay HK$1.63 million for a comparatively small, 750-gram truffle.