Record-equalling bid for a lunch date with Warren Buffett

For the second time, an anonymous bidder has agreed to pay more than US$3.4 million for a private lunch with Warren Buffett, with the auction proceeds going to a San Francisco homeless charity.

The bid of $3,456,789 from Friday night’s winner ties the record highest from 2012, becoming the most expensive individual charity item ever sold on eBay.

The week-long eBay auction to raise money for the Glide Foundation began on Sunday and wrapped up on Friday night. By midmorning on Friday, the bidding reached more than $2.6m, nearly $300,000 higher than last year’s winning bid from Beijing-based Dalian Zeus Entertainment.

Six of the past eight winners paid more than $2m to dine with Mr Buffett, the investor who leads Berkshire Hathaway.

Mr Buffett has raised more than $20m for Glide. The lunch auctions began after Mr Buffett’s first wife, Susie, showed him the charity, where she had been volunteering. Susie Buffett died in 2004 but the connection between Warren Buffett and Glide’s founders has endured.

Mr Buffett has praised the foundation’s approach in providing meals, health care, job training, rehabilitation and housing support to the poor and homeless.

“I am proud to be part of something that has directly benefited so many people in need,” Mr Buffett said before the auction. “Glide is a bridge for thousands of people on the brink of despair, helping them achieve dignity and opportunity by providing them with basic services.”

After the auction, the reverend Cecil Williams, one of Glide’s co-founders, said: “We are astonished by the results of this year’s auction and send heartfelt gratitude to Mr Buffett for his deep investment in unconditional love and community.”

Mr Buffett has said he gets a wide range of questions at the lunches that usually run for several hours. The only limit on lunch conversation is what Mr Buffett might invest in next. Any other topic is open.

The winners of the lunch auction typically dine with Mr Buffett at Smith and Wollensky steak house in New York City, which donates at least $10,000 to Glide each year to host the lunch. But when the winner wants to remain anonymous, the lunch happens elsewhere.

Mr Buffett’s company owns more than 90 subsidiaries including insurance, furniture, railway, jewellery and sweet companies, restaurants and natural gas and corporate jet companies and has major investments in such groups as Coca-Cola, IBM and Wells Fargo.

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