A Chinese businessman, who heads an online game development company, has committed to pay over two million dollars for a private meal with billionaire Warren Buffett, after winning an auction to raise money for charity. The auction was the sixteenth of its kind to aid in the efforts of the Glide Foundation.
The Glide Foundation is a nonprofit agency based in San Francisco that focuses on the provision of health care, rehabilitation, and other similar services to the homeless and economically disadvantaged.
Zhu Ye is the chairman of the Dailian Zeus Entertainment Company, which is based in Beijing. His bid was the highest out of 76 bids angling for the prize of a lunch with the billionaire investor. The auction was held on Ebay and lasted five days concluding on a Friday.
The bid was not the highest ever offered on an Ebay charity event. In addition, Ye was not the first businessman to win a private meal with Buffett. In fact, the top rated bid was over three million dollars in 2012. However, it will help the Glide Foundation meet its annual operating budget of $16 million. Altogether, the sixteen auctions that have been held have raised over $20 million.
Reverend Cecil Williams, a co-founder of Glide, said that the purpose of the charity is to empower people to find their way to a more independent lifestyle and to give them some hope. Ye said charity executives were completely happy with the results of this year’s auction.
Many people are said to desire the billionaires counsel due to the fact that he is revered as both a philanthropist and an investor. Buffett is said to be willing to chat with anyone about anything. The only subject he is said to not be willing to discuss is whatever he is currently buying or selling. The 84-year-old billionaire is worth $69.2 billion and is reportedly the fourth richest man in the world. He has voiced in the past that he plans to donate all of his wealth to charity. In 2010, Buffett teamed up with Microsoft guru Bill Gates and his wife Melinda to begin the Giving Pledge. Since that time, a large number of billionaires have committed to giving away the majority of their fortune either while still living or in their wills. These billionaires come from 14 different countries. Both Gates and Buffett have said the success of this endeavor has exceeded their expectations. Just recently, ten more successful businessmen have signed the pledge.
The meal will be held at the Smith and Wollensky restaurant, which is located in Manhattan. He will be allowed to bring up to seven guests with him to the luncheon. Past auction winners of the private meal with Buffett have chosen to dine at a restaurant in Omaha, Nebraska. This is the location of Berkshire, Hathaway, Incorporated which has been run by Buffett for the last fifty years. Buffett became involved in the auctions in 2000 after his first wife, Susan, acquainted him with the Glide Foundation. She passed away in 2004.
The first three winners of the auction did not pay more than $25,000. However, after the auctions began being held online three years after they began, the price of the bids rose significantly. Last year, Andy Chua, a businessman from Singapore, paid over two million dollars to have lunch with Buffett. An anonymous bidder paid over $3 million in 2012 for the lunch which was the highest payment ever given.
Ted Wechsler, paid in excess of five million dollars in both 2010 and 2011 to win the auctions. He would later end up working as an employee of Buffett. Buffett hired him as a portfolio manager for Berkshire Hathaway.
The 76 bids were submitted by only eight people. More than likely, this is because the highest bid on the first day of the auction reached seven figures. Alan Stillman, founder of Smith and Wollensky still donates on a regular basis to the Glide Foundation.
By Rick Hope
KTVU: Record bidding for Glide’s Lunch with Warren Buffett auction
Economic Times: Lunch with Warren Buffett auctioned for 2.35 million
CNN: 10 more billionaires join Buffett-Gates giving pledge
Photo Courtesy of Bruno Falconi’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License