Bidding window opens for annual Buffett lunch auction

AP News
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Posted: May 31, 2015 10:27 AM

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Billionaire Warren Buffett will again try to sell the world's most expensive lunch this week to raise money for a San Francisco charity that helps the poor and homeless.

Over the past 15 years, Buffett's lunch auction has raised $17.9 million for the Glide Foundation. Buffett has often said that Glide gets remarkable results while helping "people that society had given up on."

The 16th annual lunch auction starts Sunday with a $25,000 minimum bid on eBay, and continues until 9:30 p.m. CDT Friday.

Here are some key facts and figures about the auction:

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MILLION-DOLLAR MEAL

Last year's auction winner paid $2,166,766 for a private audience with Buffett, the investor who leads the Berkshire Hathaway conglomerate.

That was a big jump from the $1,000,100 the 2013 winner paid, but well below the 2012 record winning bid of $3,456,789 — the most expensive charity item ever sold on eBay.

If this year's auction at least matches last year's price, Buffett will have raised more than $20 million for Glide over the years.

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PRICELESS PERSPECTIVE

Buffett is regarded as one of the most successful investors in history, and his decision to give most of his fortune to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and four foundations run by his family makes him one of the biggest philanthropists ever. The only limit on the lunch conversation is what he might invest in next, but any other topic is open and Buffett stays for hours to answer questions.

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HANDING OUT HOPE

Glide provides meals, health care, job training, rehabilitation and housing support to the poor and homeless in San Francisco. It also counts on the auction for a significant chunk of its $18 million annual budget.

"Nobody who's donated to Glide has ever felt shortchanged," Buffett said.

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SERIOUS STEAK

The winners of the lunch auction often dine at Smith & Wollensky steakhouse in New York City, which donates at least $10,000 to Glide each year to host the lunch.

But some past winners wanted to remain anonymous and opted to dine at one of Buffett's favorite steakhouses in his hometown of Omaha, Nebraska.

One of those anonymous winners, Ted Weschler, wound up with a job offer from Buffett after he paid nearly $5.3 million to win the 2010 and 2011 auctions. Buffett has said he's unlikely to hire another auction winner, but has praised Weschler's work as an investment manager for Berkshire.

The winner can bring up to seven friends.

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Follow Josh Funk online at www.twitter.com/funkwrite

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Online:

Auction site: www.ebay.com/glide

Berkshire Hathaway Inc.: www.berkshirehathaway.com

Glide Foundation: www.glide.org