Buffett Lunch Auction Draws $3.46 Million Bid, Tying Record

  • Final bid came from donor who chose to remain anonymous
  • Winner gets to dine with billionaire at New York steakhouse

Warren Buffett.

Photographer: Chris Goodney/Bloomberg

Warren Buffett’s annual charity lunch auction drew a winning bid of $3.46 million, matching the record.

That final offer came from an anonymous donor, tying the record set by another bidder in 2012 who chose to remain unknown. A crowd gathered in San Francisco Friday night to watch the final moments of bidding, erupting in cheers when the last offers came in. The auction began Sunday and concluded Friday night. Bidding accelerated during the final day, reaching $2.8 million during the afternoon, according to EBay Inc.’s website.

Buffett, 85, has raised more than $20 million through the lunches since 2000 to help Glide, which aids the homeless and poor in the city. The top bidder and as many as seven guests get a chance to dine with the billionaire at New York’s Smith & Wollensky steakhouse. Past winners have included hedge fund manager David Einhorn and Ted Weschler, the portfolio manager who would eventually join Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. to help oversee investments.

“Tonight was extremely just an explosion of joy and happiness,” the Rev. Cecil Williams, co-founder of Glide, said after the winning offer was announced. “We just think that this is one of the best things that has happened to us in a long time.”

Glide, which was started by Williams and Janice Mirikitani, serves more than 2,000 meals a day to the homeless, provides medical services, and offers support groups for women facing domestic abuse. Williams, who joined Glide Memorial United Methodist Church in 1963, has helped start programs for crack cocaine addicts and those affected by AIDS.

Williams said Glide would “sprinkle” the money raised among all the organization’s programs. The group aims to start by helping people with the most basic needs, and has expanded to try to help break the cycle of poverty and empower individuals to improve their lives, Mirikitani added in an interview Friday night.

Glide was brought to Buffett’s attention by his first wife, Susan, a volunteer for the foundation. The billionaire pledged in 2006 to donate the majority of his fortune to charity, mostly to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Susan Buffett died in 2004.

This year’s winning offer was 47 percent higher than last year’s $2.35 million from Zhu Ye, chairman of China’s Dalian Zeus Entertainment Co.

YearWinnerWinning Bid
2003David Einhorn, Greenlight Capital$250,100
2004Jason Choo, Singapore$202,100
2006Yongping Duan, California$620,100
2007Mohnish Pabrai, Guy Spier, Harina Kapoor$650,100
2008Zhao Danyang, Pure Heart Asset Management$2,110,100
2009Salida Capital, Canada$1,680,300
2010Ted Weschler$2,626,311
2011Ted Weschler$2,626,411
2014Andy Chua, Singapore$2,166,766
2015Zhu Ye, Dalian Zeus Entertainment Co.$2,345,678
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