The winning offer for a Buffett charity lunch auction set a record for the annual event at $4.57 million. The winner, who chose to remain anonymous, can bring as many as seven friends to dine with the billionaire investor at Smith & Wollensky steakhouse in New York.
Buffett’s auction raises money for San Francisco-based charity Glide, an organization that his late wife Susan Buffett supported. The auction has brought Glide more than $30 million over decades, as bids climbed from thousands of dollars in the early years to millions. Among its various programs, Glide provides meals to the homeless in San Francisco, offers support to domestic violence victims and helps people find shelter.
“A lot of the trend lines around homelessness, poverty and inequality are getting worse. The lines outside of our doors keep getting longer," Glide Chief Executive Officer Karen Hanrahan said in a phone interview last week ahead of the start of the auction. “The funds that we’ve raised with Warren Buffett have allowed us to be just responsive to the community and responsive to the needs of the city."
While some bidders choose to remain anonymous, a few big names have scored the chance to dine with the billionaire investor. Greenlight Capital’s David Einhorn was the highest bidder in 2003. Ted Weschler won two auctions and was later hired by Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. as an investing deputy.
The $4.57 million offer beat the previous record of $3.46 million, which was first set in 2012 by an anonymous bidder and later matched in 2016. This year’s bid was about 38% higher than the winning offer in 2018.
The bidding war, which started late Sunday, heated up early in the week and fell fairly quiet heading into the final day of the auction. Then on Friday, a handful of bids came in that exceeded $4 million.