Seattle: A bidder pledged $2.68 million to a San Francisco charity in exchange for a lunch date with billionaire investor Warren Buffett.
The winner of the online auction that concluded Friday on eBay Inc.’s website chose to remain anonymous. The final price fell short of last year’s $3.46 million winning pledge, which tied the previous record.
As in years past, the winner gets to bring seven friends to dine with Buffett, 86, at New York’s Smith & Wollensky steakhouse. Proceeds benefit Glide, a San Francisco charity that serves meals to the homeless, hosts support groups through its women’s centre for abuse victims and provides treatment for drug addiction.
“We believe in building bridges, not walls,” Glide’s co-founder Janice Mirikitani said in a statement before the auction began. “Warren Buffett and the generous bidders enable us to provide a holistic array of high quality services that meet critical needs, improve lives and elevate the human spirit.”
The five-day auction attracted 41 offers, according to eBay. Just one bid was received all day Friday, and the high offer remained below $2.4 million, before the winning bid arrived in the closing seconds.
Glide was brought to the billionaire’s attention by his first wife, Susan, who volunteered for the organization. The lunch auction has become a fixture on his philanthropic calendar and a reliable money-raiser for Glide, bringing in more than $26 million for the organization since 2000.
“Everyone that has experienced Glide comes away a believer,” Buffett said in a statement last month. “They have to see it to believe it, but when they see it, they do believe it.”
Past auction winners have included hedge fund manager David Einhorn and Ted Weschler, who later joined Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. to help oversee investments. Last year’s winner chose to remain anonymous.
Buffett is Berkshire’s chairman, chief executive officer and biggest shareholder. He used stock picks and acquisitions to build Berkshire from a failing textiles maker into a $419 billion company with holdings in energy, insurance, retail and manufacturing.
Donors who don’t have seven figures to shell out can still make donations to Glide on eBay. Ten dollars provides a fried-chicken lunch for two, while $80 funds a 40-minute legal consultation. Anyone who gives through 9 June will be entered to win a trip to San Francisco to meet Mirikitani and her Glide co-founder Reverend Cecil Williams.