For the 18th consecutive year, billionaire investor and
Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE:BRK-A) (NYSE:BRK-B) chairman and CEO Warren
Buffett is auctioning off a lunch with himself. The auction went
live on eBay on Sunday June 4, and will conclude on Friday, June
9 at 7:30 p.m. PST, at which point a winner can invite up to
seven of their closest friends to lunch in New York City with the
Oracle of Omaha.
The catch? The bids for the annual Buffett lunch can get big.
Buffett's annual lunch auction
The annual Buffett lunch
auction is held to benefit GLIDE, a San Francisco-based
charity that runs several anti-poverty programs. Buffett's late
wife, Susie, came up with the idea in 2000, and was involved with
the Glide Foundation until her death in 2004.
The auction's prize is a lunch held at the Smith & Wollensky
steakhouse in New York City, and the winner can choose to attend
the meal solo, or with up to seven guests of their choosing.
While the auction has never exactly resulted in a small
donation for its winner, the bids have really skyrocketed in
recent years. Last year's winner, who chose to remain anonymous,
paid $3.4 million for the privilege. The 2014 and 2015 auctions
were won by a Singaporean businessman and a Chinese gaming
company, respectively, both of whom paid over $2 million.
, who is now a Berkshire Hathaway investment
manager, won back-to-back auctions in 2010 and 2011, and spent a
combined $5.3 million. In all, the auctions have generated nearly
$24 million for the Glide Foundation.
If you want to get in on this year's auction, be prepared to
donate a similar amount, or perhaps even more. Bids for the 2017
auction exceeded $1 million within a minute after it began, where
it remains as I write this on Monday afternoon.
Why pay millions for a single lunch?
It may seem completely ridiculous to you that people are actually
paying millions of dollars for a single lunch, but some of them
could have good reasons for doing so.
For example, former hedge fund manager Ted Weschler, winner of
two Buffett lunch auctions, was subsequently offered a job with
Berkshire as an investment manager. And it was reported that his
discussions with Buffett during the two lunches he won had a lot
to do with it. Now, he and fellow Berkshire investment manager
Todd Combs manage a combined $21 billion of Berkshire's capital,
and are likely to take over Berkshire's closely followed stock
portfolio when Buffett is no longer at the helm.
In addition to the opportunity to pitch yourself, or a certain
investment deal, to Warren Buffett, winners could potentially get
a large tax deduction for their donation, since it technically
constitutes a charitable contribution. The IRS allows
taxpayers to deduct up to half of their annual income in
charitable donations, so last year's winning bid may have
translated to well over $1 million in tax savings for the bidder.
Whatever the reason, if you have deep pockets and want to have a
private sit-down with one of the greatest investors of all time,
you now have the chance to make it happen.
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