Warren Buffett's final charity lunch fetches record bid of $19m

The amount, from an unidentified winner, far surpassed the previous record of $4.57m in 2019

Warren Buffett will talk about almost anything at the charity lunch, but not where he may invest next. Reuters
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A lucky, and very wealthy, person bid more than $19 million to dine 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 in the eBay auction that ended on Friday night far surpassed the previous record of $4.57m, paid in 2019 by cryptocurrency entrepreneur Justin Sun, although the new winner's identity could not immediately be determined.

Proceeds benefit Glide, a non-profit in San Francisco's Tenderloin district 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.

Mr Buffett, 91, the chairman and chief executive of Berkshire Hathaway, has raised more than $53.2m for Glide in the 21 auctions, which began in 2000.

An eBay spokeswoman said the lunch was the most expensive item ever sold on the company's website to benefit charity.

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

Mr Buffett became a supporter of Glide after his first wife Susan, who died in 2004, introduced him to the charity, where she had been volunteering.

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

This year's auction winner and up to seven guests will dine with Mr Buffett at the Smith & Wollensky steakhouse in Manhattan.

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

Hedge fund managers David Einhorn and Ted Weschler are among previous auction winners.

Mr Weschler became a Berkshire portfolio manager after paying a combined $5.25m to win the 2010 and 2011 auctions.

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

Mr 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 $4bn on June 14.

Updated: May 12, 2023, 3:22 PM