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Stanley Ho Pays Top Price at $417,200 Truffle Sale for Charity

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Truffles
White truffles worth about $5,000 are displayed at owner Tony May's SD26 restaurant in New York, U.S., on Nov. 9, 2009. Small portions of truffles are offered shaved over spinach and egg yolk-filled ravioli. Photographer: Paul Goguen/Bloomberg

Nov. 28 (Bloomberg) -- Stanley Ho, a Macau billionaire, paid the top price in an international white-truffle auction that raised a total of $417,200.

The highest bid during Saturday’s sale, held simultaneously in London, Rome and Macau, was $330,000 for two pieces of the rare tuber weighing a total 1.3 kilograms (2.87 pounds). It came in Macau on behalf of Ho, chairman of SJM Holdings Ltd., Asia’s biggest listed casino operator by sales, according to one of the organizers of the London event, Bruno Giorgi.

“It was fun,” said Piers Boothman, associate director of Christie’s International, the London auctioneer at Franco’s restaurant, on Jermyn Street. “Most of the bidding came from Macau, but we contributed here as well.”

Truffle prices are boosted by the charitable element at sales such as this. Ho’s bid was for a 900 gram truffle from Tuscany and a 400 gram truffle from Molise. The top winning bid in London -- $7,000, for five truffles, weighing a total of 274 grams -- came via telephone from a French group, Giorgi said. He wouldn’t identify the bidders.

The auction followed a four-course lunch in London, where diners enjoyed Italian white truffle with porcini and quail eggs; white truffle risotto; veal entrecote with white-truffle potato puree; and Prosecco-poached pears with white-truffle zabaglione. Tickets to the sale cost 150 pounds ($234).

Bidding was relayed via satellite from Don Alfonso 1890 restaurant in Macau; and La Pergola, in Rome.

Proceeds from the sale go to the charity picked by each location. The Hambro family, which owns Franco’s, chose the Institute of Cancer Research in London.

In 2007, a record $330,000 was paid by Ho for a 1.5 kilogram white truffle. The artist Damien Hirst was among the unsuccessful bidders. In 2008, the largest truffle of the year, 1.08 kilograms, sold at the international auction for $200,000.

To contact the writer on the story: Richard Vines in London at rvines@bloomberg.net or Richardvines on http://twitter.com/home.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Beech at mbeech@bloomberg.net.

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