Buffett charity lunch fetches $1 million bid, down from $3.46 million last year

Reuters News
Posted: Jun 08, 2013 12:22 PM
Buffett charity lunch fetches $1 million bid, down from $3.46 million last year

(Reuters) - The yet-unidentified winner of an online charity auction will pay $1 million to lunch with Warren Buffett and friends, a relative bargain compared with last year's top bid that came in at more than three times the amount.

The event raises funds for the San Francisco-based charity GLIDE, which provides meals, shelter and other services for the area's poor.

The annual auction for the chance to dine with the "Oracle of Omaha" had reached record price levels in recent years. Last year's winning bid was $3.46 million, which topped the previous year's $2.63 million top bid from fund manager Ted Weschler, who was later hired as an investment manager at Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway.

This year's anonymous winner, who paid the lowest amount in six years at exactly $1,000,100, will have lunch with the Nebraska billionaire and up to seven friends at Smith & Wollensky in New York City. The five-day auction on eBay, which closed on Friday evening, received 106 bids.

Buffett, 82, who was introduced to GLIDE by his late first wife Susan, has held 14 auctions raising more than $15 million for the organization, which was founded 50 years ago.

The San Francisco Business Times reported the Rev. Cecil Williams, GLIDE's founder, as saying budget cuts were likely due to the surprisingly low auction results.

Williams, speaking to Reuters on Saturday, said the quote was inaccurate, and GLIDE would continue its fundraising efforts to meet its $17 million annual budget. He expressed gratitude for Buffett's longtime support and for the winning bid, calling it an important gift.

"We never know what will come. So we are very proud about what has taken place last night, and we feel we are on the right direction, doing the right thing, and making it count," Williams said.

(Reporting by Susan Kelly in Chicago; Editing by Tiziana Barghini and Gunna Dickson)