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.
Year Winner Winning Bid 2000 Anonymous $25,000 2001 Anonymous $18,000 2002 Anonymous $25,000 2003 David Einhorn, Greenlight Capital $250,100 2004 Jason Choo, Singapore $202,100 2005 Anonymous $351,100 2006 Yongping Duan, California $620,100 2007 Mohnish Pabrai, Guy Spier, Harina Kapoor $650,100 2008 Zhao Danyang, Pure Heart Asset Management $2,110,100 2009 Salida Capital, Canada $1,680,300 2010 Ted Weschler $2,626,311 2011 Ted Weschler $2,626,411 2012 Anonymous $3,456,789 2013 Anonymous $1,000,100 2014 Andy Chua, Singapore $2,166,766 2015 Zhu Ye, Dalian Zeus Entertainment Co. $2,345,678 2016 Anonymous $3,456,789
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