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Billionaire Warren Buffett. File photo: Reuters

US billionaire Warren Buffett’s last charity private lunch sees record US$19 million bid

  • A wealthy person has bid US$19 million to eat at a steakhouse with Warren Buffett, 91, in his last such auction for San Francisco charity Glide
  • The winning eBay bid easily outdid the previous record of US$4.57 million, paid in 2019 by Chinese cryptocurrency entrepreneur Justin Sun

A wealthy person has bid a record US$19 million to eat lunch with Warren Buffett, in the 21st and final time that the billionaire businessman auctioned a private lunch to benefit a San Francisco charity.

The winning bid at the eBay auction, which ended on Friday, far surpassed the previous record of US$4.57 million paid in 2019 by cryptocurrency entrepreneur Justin Sun.

Proceeds benefit Glide, a non-profit in San Francisco that helps the poor, homeless or those battling substance abuse. Glide offers meals, shelter, HIV and hepatitis C tests, job training and children’s programmes.

This year’s winner chose to remain anonymous. An eBay spokeswoman said the lunch was the most expensive item ever sold on the company’s website to benefit charity.

Then US President Barack Obama awards the 2010 Medal of Freedom to Warren Buffett. Photo: AP

Buffett, 91, the chairman and chief executive of Berkshire Hathaway Inc, raised about US$53.2 million for Glide in the 21 auctions, which began in 2000 and have included several winners from Asia.

“It’s been nothing but good,” Buffett said in a statement. “I’ve met a lot of interesting people from all over the world. The one universal characteristic is that they feel the money is going to be put to very good uses.”

No auctions were held in 2020 and 2021 because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Buffett began supporting Glide after his first wife, Susan, introduced him to the charity, where she had been volunteering. She died in 2004.

Buffett has pledged to give away nearly all of his fortune. Buffett was worth US$93.4 billion on Friday, ranking seventh worldwide, according to Forbes magazine.

Chinese billionaire Justin Sun, who won a 2019 auction for a private lunch with Warren Buffett. File photo: Getty Images

This year’s auction winner and up to seven guests will join Buffett at the Smith & Wollensky steakhouse in Manhattan.

Buffett will talk about almost anything, but not where he may invest next.

Berkshire owns dozens of companies including the BNSF railroad, Geico car insurance, energy, manufacturing and retail businesses, and stocks such as Apple Inc and Bank of America Corp.

Buffett still owns nearly 16 per cent of the Omaha, Nebraska-based conglomerate, despite having donated more than half of his shares since 2006, including US$4 billion on June 14.

According to Glide, bidders to have won other auctions include Singapore’s Jason Choo, who paid US$202,100 in 2004.

In 2008 China’s Zhao Danyang from Pure Heart Asset Management bid US$2,110,100 to win, while in 2014 Andy Chua from Singapore won by offering US$2,166,766.

The following year, China’s Zhu Ye from Dalian Zeus Entertainment Co bid US$2,345,678.