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Mystery bidder pays record $19 million in charity auction for lunch with Warren Buffett

Business Insider US
Warren Buffett at a summit in Washington DC in 2015.
Warren Buffett at a summit in Washington DC in 2015.
Paul Morigi/Getty Images
  • A charity auction bidder paid $19 million to have lunch with Warren Buffett in New York.
  • It is almost quadruple the record of $4.5 million set by crypto investor Justin Sun in 2019.
  • Buffett has pledged to give 99% of his wealth to philanthropy during his life or after he dies.
  • For more stories go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za.

A steak lunch with Warren Buffet has sold for a record $19 million in a charity auction.

The annual auction to benefit homeless charity Glide fetched a record bid of $19,000,100 from a bidder who chose to remain anonymous.

The winner, who defeated 43 other bidders who started at $25,000 last Sunday, will join the legendary investor at a private lunch with up to seven guests at Smith & Wollensky steakhouse in New York City, according to a statement released by eBay, which held the auction.

The organisers vetted prospective bidders before the auction to ensure they could pay if they won.

The Berkshire Hathaway CEO, who turns 92 in August, has held the lunch since 2000, which has now raised $53 million for charity. However, it is the last auction in which he will participate, which may have resulted in the record bid. 

The last time it was held, in pre-pandemic 2019, cryptocurrency entrepreneur Justin Sun won with a then-record bid of $4.5 million.

Buffett said the lunches have been "nothing but good. I've met a lot of interesting people from all over the world. The one universal characteristic is that they feel the money is going to be put to very good uses."

eBay CEO Jamie Iannone said: "We are incredibly proud that Warren Buffett's final Power Lunch has broken our all-time record of funds raised, with all proceeds supporting Glide's efforts to create pathways out of crisis and transform lives." 

In 2018, Smith & Wollensky Steakhouse founder Alan Stillman told Insider he spent a year trying to get Buffett's number to offer him his restaurant for the meal.

After he finally reached him, Stillman said: "It took him about, maybe five seconds to say, 'you Mr. Stillman, have a deal'." Buffett orders steak, "but always with a Diet Coke," he added.

Buffett has pledged to donate 99% of his wealth to charity during his lifetime or after his death. This week, he donated 14 million Berkshire Hathaway shares worth $4 billion to charity, according to a press release, as part of his annual pledge. 

Buffett's $93 billion net worth makes him the world's eighth-richest person, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires' Index. His net worth has fallen nearly $13 billion in the last week, partly due to this week's donation.

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